Short message services are more commonly known as SMS messages. It was recently reported that over 2 Trillion of the these of these messages are sent through mobile devices around the globe daily, often forming part of the basic communication between two parties either close together or sometimes around the world. The advantages of SMS are speed, lower cost and easy-of-use.
SMS can also be used to act as alert services. These SMS messages do not usually originate by typing, instead they are triggered through technologies – such as GIS, sensors and instrumentation methods. The power of this approach lies in the fact that many emergency and disaster events arise at times when people are not observing them. Often sensors and other instrumentation are more sensitive to physical properties and, in some cases, the unique geoprocessing capabilities of geospatial technologies enable them to ascertain special circumstances, often times leading to disasters.
Global Information Society Watch describes the use and application of mobility technologies for these kinds of purposes in south-east Asia. “The comparative framework used in this report is called the “8 Cs” of the digital economy, based on eight parameters beginning with the letter C: connectivity, content, community, commerce, culture, capacity, cooperation and capital. There are two ways of looking at ICTs: as an instrument, and as an industry.” This approach entails much more that merely shipping SMS messages every now and then, it speaks to the notion of building an infrastructure to support disaster and emergency relief.
Bowes FireLocator is an example of emergency technology that incorporates Bing Maps to provide up-to-date information about changing fire conditions. Recent flash floods potential in Thailand caused forecasters to warn residents prior to the event. AsiaJin Blog reported on the use of mobile phones for earthquake warnings in Japan this fall.
SMS messages can be triggered a single event or a series of events that happen between locations. Individually or in combination with additional data, these services are growing at a rapid rate. Once linked to geospatial technologies the ability to not only warn the public, but to plan relief operations becomes much more efficient.