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"I Am Alive" is a Call to Action

May 18 2014, 7:10pm CDT | by , in News | Technology News

"I Am Alive" is a Call to Action
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"I Am Alive" puts loved ones at ease in the middle of a crisis zone.

How do you tell love ones “I Am Alive” in the middle of a global conflict or disaster?

Sandra Hassan tells The Next Web's Lauren Maffeo that while living in Paris, and away from her homeland of Lebanon, she worries about her family in the middle of a warzone. And she’s not the only person. “Whenever we heard of an explosion, our hearts would sink and we’d rush to our phones and computers to contact our families and friends.” Feeling frustrated, the 27-year-old put her education to use and created the app “I Am Alive.”

The app offers the chance for those in disaster areas to contact loved ones through Twitter and Facebook. A press of a button lets people know the person is safe when it posts #Lebanon and “I Am Alive” to the social media sites. Internally, the application allows the person to see who has responded, so that focus may remain on the unaccounted. The internal communication does not involve social media, so users are able to communicate privately as well. Instead of bogging down the telephone lines, the app will work on even Edge network, and keeps the phone lines open for those needing immediate need.

While the application doesn’t work beyond Android, Hassan is looking for someone to help expand the platforms to Apple and Windows. Working with the International Crisis Watch (ICW), she hopes to establish a business plan. However, even with an investor, “I Am Alive” will remain free and she acknowledges the lack of money marketability will probably result in few companies backing the project. But all it takes is one company to see the inherent value.

Since growing from a Twitter and into Facebook, the app has been downloaded over 7,000 times in 25 countries. Given economic and social globalization, “I Am Alive” offers peace of mind to those away from loved ones in a bad situations.

“I Am Alive” is not the only application in the market. For those in areas of unrest, “Way to Safety” identifies and targets locations with gunfire and the Lebanese Army’s all-Arabic “LAF Shield” connects citizens with emergency numbers and crime reports.

David Michel Davis, Webby Award’s executive director, acknowledges that before mobile and social media communication, many websites acted as landing spots for those looking for loved ones. Six Apart’s Moveable Type and then-owned Live Journal, Flickr, and Blogger all provided photogenic accounts of the 2004 tsunami that hit South East Asia and India. Live Journal provided a safe spacein accounting for various users during the earthquake in Haiti as well. And in recent global disasters, Google has created spreadsheets for those worried and unable to contact loved ones.

“I Am Alive”’s advantage is the simple communication without wasting battery life, weak signals, or large amounts of time online. And the ability for most mobile users to find the app quickly.

As a Public Health graduate student, Sandra Hassan seems to be on-top of the trend--ahead of Silicon Valley. Hopefully, they'll notice the inherent value in saving lives.

 

Source:  “I Am Alive”: The role of apps in disaster relief

 

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