from the good-looking-out dept
I suppose if you wanted to, you could make a big list of things that prove this world we live in leaves much to be desired. Flip on the news and you'll understand how government is broken. Ride public transportation in any major city and you'll lose faith in most of humanity by the time you reach your stop. But to really demonstrate that we live in a mean, dangerous world, I give you smart phone apps for war zones.
In Lebanon, for example, as sectarian violence spills across Syria's border, apps are being developed for avoiding riots, car bombs, and even snipers. The military created "LAF Shield," which allows them to highlight danger zones for users to avoid. Users in turn can swipe to issue an SOS or report suspicious activity to the army.I mean, I get how this is obviously useful, but this is depressing. I don't want to picture myself rising for the morning coffee, heading for the door on my way to work, only to whip out my smart phone and check where the IEDs and snipers might be on my way to the bus. Still, it seems like a pretty interesting way to crowdsource keeping people safe. Assuming, of course, that the Lebanese military doesn't abuse the app for their own purposes, or turn it off at their whim.
And the goal of "Way to Safety," an app under development, is to be able to locate a gunman just using the smartphones in people's pockets. The app will record gunfire, identify the type of weapon being used and triangulate the exact location of the shooter, as long as several users are in the area.Sort of sounds like Batman's illicit use of roughly all the phones in Dark Knight. And, like in that story, I worry about the abuse of governments using this. That said, so long as the phone manipulation can't be done surreptitiously, using the recordings as evidence to identify shooters could be helpful. Concurrently, you'd like to hope that these types of apps won't turn into the kind of sectarian or prejudicial "services" that the now semi-infamous Ghetto Tracker app did, but it seems like the potential for that very thing is quite high.
The point is that these war zone apps are as interesting as they are depressing. The fact that many of our fellow humans need an app to tell them how to avoid getting blown up or shot may be the reality, but I have to believe there are ways to utilize technology to bring people together, rather than keep them from dying apart.