When disaster strikes, the world can feel like it has turned upside down. In cases of natural disasters, like a hurricane or flooding, the first thing people do is make sure their loved ones are safe. This is where technology can help with numerous social media platforms available in the palm of your hands. You can text your parents to make sure they are safe or broadcast a message to all your friends and family that you are in a safe place. With smart phone technology, it is great when it works, and you have an internet connection. But a natural disaster can knock out major networking infrastructure, thus rendering smartphones almost useless for communication purposes.
This is where an innovative social media application called FireChat comes in to play. It has been around for a only short while but it is still one the best solutions out there for communication within a crowd without the use of an internet connection. FireChat is a free messaging app for public and private communications that works even without Internet access or cellular data.
According to OpenGarden, the makers of FireChat:
FireChat has reached the top 10 among social networking apps in 124 countries. Communities around the world use it to overcome communication challenges. Here are some of the notable examples:
- Natural disasters including floods in Kashmir (April 2015) and Chennai (October 2015), the eruption of volcano Cotopaxi in Ecuador (August 2015), and hurricane Patricia in Mexico (October 2015).
- Massive events: pro-democracy protests in Taiwan (April 2014), Hong Kong (September 2014), the Bersih anti-corruption movement in Malaysia (August 2015), and the visit of the Pope in the Philippines (January 2015).
- Historical elections in Venezuela (December 2015) and the Republic of the Congo (March 2016).
- Large festivals in India, Canada and the US, including Burning Man
Here is how FireChat works,
I highly recommend that everyone has this application on their smart phone device. You never know when you are going to need it. First responders should also have this application available in case there comes a time when it is might be the only way to find out what is happening in a disaster zone. It is highly applicable to emergency services in rural areas.
On a related note, now OpenGarden is working on giving you tokens for sharing your internet connection. Check out more here: