Large storms that hit the DFW area on the day after Christmas killed 11 people, devastated homes, displaced families and scattered pets in their wake. Reading a story in the Dallas Morning News this Monday morning reminded me of just how much smart technology north Texas already uses to help emergency responders, city officials, weather experts and citizens. In the story Ruben Porras was talking with his wife when the unthinkable happened. She screamed and the screen went black. He utilized the “Find my Friends” app on his phone to locate her. Tragically she received fatal injuries when her SUV was swept off an overpass by a tornado. Read the story here. The simple and inexpensive App allowed the husband to quickly locate his wife and that is incredibly powerful.
Along with improved radar, predictive modelling and other advancements in meteorology other technologies are improving survival and response to major weather events. Amidst what sometimes feels like Henny Penny style “sky is falling” breaking weather news it is clear that far fewer people lost their lives in these tornadoes including a massive EF4 Tornado because of the technology that allows for the early warnings. Rowlett reported no fatalities, though nearly 450 buildings there were damaged or destroyed. Mayor Todd Gottel told the Dallas Morning News “It’s an absolute miracle, as far as I’m concerned” .
Social media applications and group pages are helping people reunite with pets. In the recent terrorist attack in Paris Facebook users were prompted to check in as “I’m Safe” which alerts family and friends immediately even if they are half way around the world. If you are stranded and in need of help, a mobile phone can be a life saving lifeline. Internet of Things, Big Data, wearable technology and other new technologies will change many things in the coming years.
We are fortunate to have some major initiatives going on right here in the Dallas Area. Earlier this year, Dallas startup accelerator Tech Wildcatters launched a program focused on wearable technology for police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel (see article here).
As technology continues to advance, we are certain to see even more improvements in keeping the public safe by predicting and planning for events, responding to emergencies and enabling citizens to protect themselves or reach out for help.