Hurricane Isaac closing in on Gulf of Mexico - there's an app for that.
(CNN) — For those of us who live inland, hurricane-tracking seems more a curious indulgence, but if you live along the coastal regions in a hurricane zone, keeping tabs on these atmospheric leviathans is paramount.
The future is almost here: Governments preparing to deal with water wars
Almost half of humanity will face water scarcity by 2030 and strategists from Israel to Central Asia prepare for strife.
After droughts ravaged his parents’ farmland, Sixteen-year-old Hassain and his two-year-old sister Sareye became some of the newest refugees forced from home by water scarcity.
"There was nothing to harvest," Hassain said through an interpreter during an interview at a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya which is housing some 160,000 Somalis displaced by a lack of water. "There had been no rain in my village for two years. We used to have crops."
As global warming alters weather patterns, and the number of people lacking access to water rises, millions, if not billions, of others are expected to face a similar fate as water shortages become more frequent.
Gearing up for windy season: Text, don't call when natural disaster strikes
WASHINGTON, May 30 (Reuters) - It is better to send text messages than to call when natural disasters strike a nd networks get congested, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday, also urging people to add battery-powered cell phone chargers to their storm emergency kits.
Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told reporters that forecasts for a “normal” Atlantic hurricane season should not keep those in potentially affected areas from getting ready for storms that could make landfall.
Queensland Police top of the class: - Using twitter to reach out to community
With heavy rains ravaging the Sunshine Coast, the busy Queensland Police is using their twitter account to reach out to flood-hit communities.
Here, concerned citizens can find with up to the minute updates on road-closures and warnings.
The popular twitter-account is not a new initiative, however. Scroll back in time, and you will find reports on massive pot-holes, oil-spills, and crime.
With over 22 thousand followers, and 15 thousand tweets, @QPSmedia has become the go-to place for safety-minded Queenslanders. No wonder, with all the flash-floods and tropical cyclones this region has to deal with year in and out.
Bad news travels fast: The earthquake that never showed up
On February 27th, our website was bombarded with search queries like “Strong Earthquake Dubai 12.02.12” and “Earthquake UAE BBC”.
However, a quick search showed there was no such earthquake recorded, neither in the news, nor in the US Geological Surveys, that we rely heavily on for earthquake information.
Residents in Dubai and Sharjah were already in doomsday mode, after being hit by a massive sand storm the day before, so all it took were a few SMS going around, about a strong earthquake expected to hit the same day, and panic flared up again.
To quote the UAE Met Office 26 Feb : "Rumors spread by SMS and some websites on earthquakes to hit northern parts of the Emirates this evening are untrue."
Kenya: The telco that gives medical advice almost for free
Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom has set up a hotline for all subscribers to call for medical advice. The service, Daktari 1525, puts the caller straight through to certified medical or dental personnel.
A welcome service in a country where malaria is prevalent, and the road infrastructure is questionable. We would gladly pay 20 shilling per minute to have someone tell us it will be ok.
Reverse tsunami - See how Japan was rebuilt in 11 months
National Post: Japan’s Reconstruction Agency will be inaugurated Friday, almost 11 months after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the country. The agency will streamline the process to help municipalities, set up special reconstruction zones and provide subsidies for disaster-hit local governments.
Recent enquiries received by UK Foreign Office staff in Spain include a request for Phil Collins’ telephone number, whilst a man asked staff to contact his dominatrix after she had left him stranded at the airport.
KLM To Launch ‘Social Seating’ Service for in-flight networking
Looking to do some in-flight networking? KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is planning to launch a “social seating” service, where passengers will be able to link their social media profile to their check-in information, and then choose a seating partner based on the social media profiles of other passengers.
This service, which KLM hopes to launch in the next year, will be available to all passengers checking in online, although passengers can choose whether they want their social media profiles to be made available to others on the flight. The social seating concept – sharing profiles from Facebook or LinkedIn – could create solid networking opportunities for business travelers, as reported by Radio Netherlands.
Now that we have smartphones, Russian politicans can no longer bribe for votes
When a small-town mayor from Russia’s governing party recently offered tens of thousands of dollars in government cash to a veterans group in exchange for votes in next month’s parliamentary elections, it appeared to be business as usual.
Violations of Russia’s election rules no longer evoke much surprise here, and in the past the episode would have probably gone unnoticed, or at least unpunished.
But this is the era of the smartphone.
Someone recorded the mayor’s speech and uploaded the video to YouTube. Along with the promise of cash was a threat to cut off the elderly veterans if they failed to vote for the party, United Russia, which is led by Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin. (NYT)
Using mobile to prevent the spread of dengue-fever
If you’re in Singapore, you can download the free app X-Dengue to protect yourselves and your loved ones from potentially fatal Dengue Fever.
The mosqito-borne virus, often referred to as the ‘bone-breaker disease’, is prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical areas.
X-Dengue helps you stay clear. It delivers personalised, real-time notifications about known Dengue fever clusters near your predefined locations such as home, school, work as well as your current location using the location info of your iPhone.
A magnitude 7.2 earhquake struck eastern Turkey over the weekend, killing over a thousand people, causing devastation in this poorer region of the country.
The Turkey earthquake being just one of many the past few months, earthquake apps are gaining popularity.
And the number of downloads are - not surprisingly - surging in the wake of major earthquakes.
iFeltThat Earthquake is one of the favourites among critics and users alike. The app sources information from official sources like the US Geological Survey, to get the latest information on seismic activity nearby your current location, or anywhere else in the world.
US intelligence agency aims to forecast unrest by reading the runes of social media.
It is every government’s dream: a system that can predict future events such as riots, political upheavals and the outbreak of wars. Last week, a collection of academics and private businesses was scrambling to meet the deadline for proposals for research aiming to do just that.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a research arm of the US intelligence community, is sponsoring the work under the Open Source Indicators (OSI) programme. The three-year project, with an unspecified budget, is designed to gather digital data from a range of sources, from traffic webcams to television to Twitter. The goal, according to IARPA, is to provide the intelligence community with predictions of social and political events that can “beat the news”.
Cote d'Ivoire: Using mobile phones to help poor buy food
The United Nations has launched a pilot programme that uses mobile telephone technology to facilitate cash transfers to help thousands of poor people that were badly affected by the post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire to buy food.
More than 10,000 vulnerable households in Abobo and Yopougon districts in the commercial capital, Abidjan, will receive a text message on their mobile phones alerting them to the transaction and allowing them to withdraw money from local cash points of the telecoms provider MTN, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), which launched the scheme.
And after years of providing five-star treatment to passengers in the air, as well as on the ground, Qatar Airways can now officially call themselves the best airline in the world.
The luxury strategy seems to be paying off, as Middle Eastern airlines remain some of the few actually making sustainable profits in the air. As they keep adding to their networks accross the globe, can they bring back the excitement of a bygone era?
Forget abour trawling airline websites, Google Flight Search will give you the best deals in one search. Google Flight Search is currently only available for US Destinations, but it looks like Expedia and co will are facing some serious competition in the not so distant future.
Smooth sailing in NY: High-tech traffic system deals with congestion in real time
There are 15 cars backed up on 6th Avenue because a school bus is idling in front of Radio City Music Hall. A blown manhole cover on 42nd Street is causing commuter temperatures to rise near Times Square.
All of this is being watched with cool detachment inside the New York City Department of Transport traffic command centre in Queens, where a bank of digital television screens shows non-stop action from a group of midtown intersections between 3rd and 6th avenues and from 42nd to 57th street.
Members of the public can subscribe to a new Heavy Rain Warning SMS alert service.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said subscribers of the service will receive alerts via SMS when heavy rain is expected over any of the five sectors — north, south, east, west, central — across Singapore, reports Channel News Asia.
St. Regis New York has created the New York E-Butler, an Ipad app allowing guests and the public alike to access to the hotel’s butlers and concierges at the touch of a button.
The application offers guests the ability to “chat” directly with their butler in real-time, arranging all of the details of their visit to the city instantly.
The hotel has tapped a number of New York’s most celebrated personalities to share their favorite shops, restaurants and city landmarks, providing a unique insider’s guide to the city. Through St. Regis E-Butler, users will have the ability to book these “favorite spots” directly through the app.
Now you can get a degree in emergency management, disaster response
Just as earlier waves of college students were molded by long-running conflicts like the cold war, today’s undergraduates have confronted an abundance of sudden, free-ranging calamity, both natural and not.
“This generation has never known a time without terrorism or disaster, and I think it has drawn many of them to this field,” said Karla Vermeulen, deputy director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health, which was founded in 2004 at SUNY New Paltz. “They were 10 at the time of 9/11 and 14 during Katrina, and it’s really shaped them.”
Here’s to an app you wish you’ll never need. But it can save lives if you have a medical emergency outside your home, or become involved in a traffic accident.
Available on iPhone and Android platforms, the Norwegian Air Ambulance app displays your exact coordinates, so that you’ll always be found. It comes with a direct call button for 113, the number for medical emergencies in Norway.