Mobile 9/11

Photo I Took as Child Visiting New York

The last few days there has been a plethora of 911 coverage as we reach the 10 year of anniversary of that awful day. As I watched Matt Lauer interview familiy members of the fallen and replay audio from that fateful day this morning, I dared to think of what it would be like if an tragedy of that magnitude were to hit America today.

Where the Twin Towers Stood

Today we are a different place. Cell phones were just babies then, now they are grown up and we are a culture steeped in mobile devices and much of the population is used to accessing data real time. If 9/11 were to happen today the negative of this technology would be that there would instantly be photos of the dead, dying, burning, crashing, screaming and crying. There would be the desperate tweets of the trapped to loved ones and after the tragedy countless un-removable photos and videos of the dying would be forever burned in our collective digital DNA that is YouTube and Vimeo.

Yet,  there would also be a more powerful flip-side. These same mobile devices might capture images of the perpetrators and be able to alert the authorities to their identity and plans sooner, push notifications would allow the trapped to know what routes to avoid and more importantly give them faster notice that they need to get out, geo-location would  be able to let the rescuers know more quickly where the trapped are and technologies such as FaceTime would allow you to visually share treasured last words or digitally hold your loved ones hands during their last moments on earth.

No one wants to live through another tragedy like the one that occured on Septermber 11, 2001 and we hope each day to prevent it from ever happening again, but knowing that we are armed with mobile technology this time around is a small bit of reassurance we can cling too.

The next step is to make sure the mobile network infastructure can support the ripple effect of traffic that an unexpected tragedy of this magnitude can produce. As I mentioned recently the earthquake on the East Coast showed that we have a ways to go as it was near impossible to get through via cell phone to loved ones immediately following the tragedy.  Once we button up the infrastructure and include technologies such as push notifications into the applications we use during natural or national disasters, we can be a nation that prevents sooner and responds more quickly than ever before.

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