When Hurricane Sandy started to rear its ugly head on the Mid-Atlantic, smart phone users turned to their devices for help. A new era in technology has been revealed as apps for different services like the Red Cross, in-phone flashlights, and streaming news sources became the top apps to download in a storm.
Hurricane Sandy brought unprecedented damage to the Mid-Atlantic region, submerging whole towns and destroying anything not strong enough in its path. With this storm came a new phenomenon in public safety and information dissemination that had never been seen before, mobile phone apps by the Red Cross and others that turned mobile devices into their own news and reference stations in the middle of the storm.
The top downloads the last few days in Apple’s App Store have been Hurricane by Red Cross, YouTube, and a flashlight application by iHandy. The Red Cross application keeps users up to date on the status of the storm, along with a way to communicate with friends and relatives should the need occur. Since abandoning Google products in the newest iOS, iOS 6, YouTube had already been the top free app in the market. This was bolstered by the fact that The Weather Channel teamed up with Youtube to stream their feed for free on the website. There have been many apps to control the flash on a camera phone, but iHandy’s is the most popular according to the App Store. When the power goes out, smart phone users are still able to access vital information as long as their batteries are charged.
This is the first time that there has been widespread use of mobile technology by the public in the event of a potential disaster. Hurricane Sandy won’t just be remembered for its destructive power, it will also be used as a standard to response and information technologies that keep the public up to date with the latest news at their fingertips. Of course this will not replace the need to listen to officials if they have important preparation information or evacuation orders. It is a fantastic extension of helping accomplish their goals of safety and reduction of death or injury.
Hurricane Sandy was a destructive storm that ripped through the Mid-Atlantic region, depositing rain, wind, and debris in its path. The use of smart phone technology is now a viable option for emergency management workers in getting information to the public, an option that was not conceivable even five years ago.