Monday, March 06, 2017

Useful in an Emergency

Facebook information screen for Safety Check
I've been on Facebook since 2007 and have only 116 "friends" on the platform. I check the feed about 2-3 times a week and post about 2-3 times a year. Calling me an infrequent user would be an overstatement.

I'll stay enrolled, however, because of new apps like Safety Check.

" fast becoming one of the world’s most important emergency response institutions."

When a natural disaster or act of terrorism occurs, communications to the affected area are overwhelmed by concerned family and friends. Now loved ones can check in on Facebook and let everyone know that they're okay.
Safety Check begins with an algorithm that monitors an emergency newswire—a third-party program that aggregates information directly from police departments, weather services, and the like. Then another Safety Check algorithm begins looking for people in the area who are discussing the event on Facebook. If enough people are talking about the event, the system automatically sends those people messages inviting them to check in as safe—and asks them if they want to check the safety of other people as well.
Of course, having Safety Check is of little use if there's no Internet. Facebook is also working on drones that will "beam" the Internet to crisis areas.
Facebook drone (Photo from Wired)
while delivering internet access to chronically underserved areas is still the company’s primary aim, the idea that these drones might be useful in natural disasters never left the engineers’ minds.....the company has already discussed the possibility with telecom companies in island nations vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis.
Facebook, Google, and other tech giants have been criticized for the enormous amount of data that they have accumulated without users' knowledge or consent. However, it's also true that they provide enormous benefits that don't cost their members a dime. Use with caution.

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