More info coming in on mobile devices being used for alerts - here's the latest:
Technology Review reports on efforts by public health authorities, epidemiologists, and mobile device software developers to make available software and services that could use mobile messaging and location-aware devices to quickly disseminate information about epidemic outbreaks:
"During an outbreak or emergency, getting good info to the public rapidly about what they need to do protect themselves is vital and can save lives," says CDC spokeswoman Jennifer Morcone.
"Avoiding certain foods, avoiding certain areas, wearing a mask...all those messages are delivered through a number of channels by the CDC during outbreaks and emergencies and we know that getting information to people when they need it is vital."
At the Center for the Advancement of Distance Education (CADE) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, researchers are helping the CDC to develop an emergency alert system that would rely on the Global Positioning System (GPS) features built into many of today's mobile handsets. In areas hit with an outbreak, people who carry GPS-enabled mobile phones and are subscribed to the alert service would receive an emergency alert text message with instructions about where to go or what to do during specific emergencies, such as an outbreak of anthrax or bird flu.
One version of these instructions has already been developed in the form of small applications written in the Java programming language that show emergency procedures step by step and can be downloaded to and stored on mobile devices that support Java.