Phone app to aid emergency situations

A team at the University of Queensland in Australia is developing a phone app to help people survive natural disasters.

The university’s School of Journalism and Communication and its Centre for Educational Innovation and Technology are working in partnership with Volunteering Queensland to develop the phone app, which is due for release at the end of 2011.

Anthony Frangi, who is managing the project, said: ’While radio and television is a traditional method for getting information out to people about emergency situations, young people aged under 25 do not listen to radio extensively and so are at risk of not being informed if an emergency situation develops.’

Mobile phones, however, are used extensively by young people and can be a vital form of communication during natural disasters.

Frangi said he hoped to develop the phone app to be a two-way communication system that will assist emergency services to locate people in trouble and provide a portal for phone users to report on situations to emergency services.

’Using existing mobile phone technology we hope to incorporate the ability to inform emergency services, family and friends where the person is located using GPS technology and allow them to also keep track of family and friends around them,’ Frangi added.

The natural disaster phone app project is funded through the joint state and federal government-funded Natural Disaster Resilience Program.