With flood warnings still in effect in Illinois and Missouri, and the Southeast still reeling from the devastating effects of last month's tornadoes, people can certainly use all the help they can get. But could better access to more accurate and timely information about storms really save us from the wrath of Mother Nature? Well here are two apps that try to do just that.
For those with BlackBerry or Android (running Froyo/2.2 and up) smartphones, you can download the free Global Alert Network App from App World and Android Market. In exchange for the freebie, you will have to put up with (the usual) "advertisements, coupons and promotions to the mobile device," according to its media kit. This app works by tracking and sending geo-targeted weather alerts and traffic information directly to your phone. (Like any location-aware app running in the background, this app sounds like it could be a power drain but maybe worth the extra juice if it's as useful as it sounds.)
In the press release, Scott Hughes, President of Global Alert Network makes a good point about why a mobile app is necessary when radio alerts already exist:
"While weather radios are essential for every home in tornado alley, there are times when you're just not around it to hear the warning. The one device that is with people everywhere they go now is their mobile phone. Our alerts are literally with you wherever you are, delivering up to date important local weather warnings and emergency information."
Don't despair if you have an Apple device because Weather Decision Technologies also makes a similar product. Its iMapWeather Radio Touch App is designed to work on everything from the iPhone to the iPad, but it does cost $9.99 from the App Store (with a later rollout for an Android-friendly version). Like the GAN, it automatically broadcasts location-sensitive, multimedia (alarm, audio, video and text) weather information to mobile devices, along with the following features:
- Follow Me: When on the go, users automatically receive an alert if they move into an area under a watch/warning.
- Friends and Family: With iMapWeather Radio, users can pinpoint up to five locations for the app to follow. This allows the user to ensure that their friends and family, whether at school, out of state, at a ballgame, etc., are safe as well.
- Battery Life: The application is designed to conserve your battery life even while using GPS.
- Audio: iMapWeather Radio provides audio alerts in the form of beeps followed by a brief description of the alert type – 24 hours a day.
- Video: In markets where local media partners participate, users can get streaming video of severe weather coverage.