wRadr: A shot in the dark?

I came across wRadr just after I had read about Microsoft’s Vine. I am not convinced that Vine is all it is hyped out to be. I don’t know how to pronounce wRadr, or why there is this fetish in the US with truncated names of this nature that sound as they have been born of a TinyURL factory for language.

Perhaps overcompensating for its truncated name, wRadr’s website is full of turgid text that promises a great deal. It notes that,

The time has come for a dedicated platform for both Homeland Security and local Emergency Management organizations to engage the general public in the exchange of time-sensitive, hyper-local, critical information with the same ease use and efficiency found in today’s popular social networking and micro-blogging applications. Before, during, and after a public emergency wRadr will help teams and communities exchange warnings and guidelines, collect data ranging from resource status to damage assessments, and coordinate efforts such as evacuations or search and rescue operations.

Whatever all this really means, it look’s like Vine already has a competitor! I’m looking forward to the first real screenshots and implementations of wRadr.

Emergency text messaging – Two real life examples

More Adventures in Emergency Text-Messaging appeares in the New York Times and provides a fascinating insight into two instances where Short Message Service (SMS) was used to respond to real life emergencies in Purdue University and St. John’s University in the US.

At St. John’s, the “messages were sent so quickly that a student who helped subdue the suspect felt his cell phone vibrate with the information while he was restraining the gunman,” according to The Associated Press.

On the other hand, the system isn’t perfect. As a commentator to the post avers:

Well, I’m a law student at St. John’s University and I can tell you that the text messaging system did not work as well as this article contends.

I didn’t receive the text messages until 2:45. At 2:30, the facilities manager of our building came to class and told everybody to stay inside. At the end of class, I received 3 text messages from the university system simultaneously.

This may be Verizon’s fault, or the fact that I was in a basement classroom with poor reception perhaps had something to do with it. This doesn’t mean that St. John’s isn’t to be commended for implementing the text system, just that it shouldn’t be viewed as a panacea. In my situation, shoe leather reached me before the text message.

While it would be imprudent to rely solely on SMS based early warning, these two examples show that using such a system to complement and strengthen other emergency response plans can aid in more useful and timely responses.