Safety Net | AT&T

(music) ERIN: Everybody is impacted by disasters that are happening around the world –everything from the 4.3 earthquake in Los Angeles a few months ago to the typhoon that’s going to impact India; flooding, wildfires. Things that we were doing 10 or 15 years ago are no longer enough. JONATHON: There are people that live in far-flung places. And for them to be disconnected from the rest of us is quickly becoming a humanitarian problem. (music) HEATHER: Mobile technology has increased everywhere, across the globe, and has been able to connect people much more quickly to information. JONATHON: It’s only natural that as these tools for communicating more effectively emerge that we start to adopt them to build things that are really life-changing to people at the most difficult points in their lives. ERIN: When you think about it, the total population that’s being impacted by some type of disaster that’s requiring them to take action or have information is critical. JONATHON: Even just simple things, like letting people know that an event has taken place at a location, which sounds really obvious to us now, is the building blocks for understanding a crisis. ERIN: Mobile technology really is the future. Nobody’s sitting still anymore. HEATHER: The data that we provide gives the decision-makers one additional point of reference as they’re trying to make very difficult decisions on life and death. ERIN: We actually just got notified that we have a 5.3 earthquake that’s occurred in Mexico. Just by a touch of the button, I’m able to see how intense the earthquake was, what the population would be impacted, and where they stand in their overall ability or capacity to be able to effectively respond. JONATHON: All of this information should be used together to get a really clear picture about what’s happening moment to moment in a crisis. So you can send a text message to Ushahidi. And we take that message, and we put it into our system. And I can click on a map. And so now that location is something that can be communicated instantly to large numbers of people. The earthquake that hit Haiti is sort of a prototypical example. (music) Buildings had collapsed. And hundreds and thousands of people were trapped in the rubble, with only hours to live. And so people were literally text messaging from the rubble that they were trapped. And we could take that information and display it on maps that could then be shared with aid workers who would go out into the field and do their best to rescue the people that had been communicating with our platform. It’s sort of an idea that wouldn’t even have been possible 20 years ago. ROBERT: This is a smartphone application that allows tracking of other devices. So it’s using Wi-Fi to talk between phones. I believe geocast is important as a technology for supporting responders in an emergency situation. It functions under field conditions that might arise in an emergency, which can include when the infrastructure network, the cellular network, might be gone. And so what I’m doing here is I’m tracking all those people out there. So that shows — the positions are the green dots. And then, the tails are where they’ve been over time. If the firefighters have their smartphones running this application with them, that could then let them communicate with other firefighters so they know who’s in that burning building or who’s in that room, it gives responders the capability to communicate even beyond the edge of the normal mobile wireless network. Who would’ve thought it would be like it is today? That’s really become an amazing thing that has a lot of potential that we’ve only just started to scratch the surface. JONATHON: There’s a lot of knowledge hidden in the noise. If we could communicate more effectively, then we could solve problems more effectively together. (music) STANISLAV: If you look at how people actually spend their money once they can afford to get just enough to eat, they don’t, for example, improve their living conditions; they tend to get a phone. Communication with other people appears to be the second most important human need after food. JONATHON: In most parts of the world, text messaging is a really serious means of communication. In fact, in a number of places, it’s all that people have. (music) STANISLAV: The traditional infrastructure consists of phones, cell towers, and the global backbone. FireChat works with the cell phone network. You get additional capacity on top of what you had before. In Hong Kong, there was fear that the government would shut down the Internet. And FireChat was used to ensure that people would be able to continue to communicate. Devices connect to one another, the network gets built, and the messages pass from one device to the other. The devices themselves provide the infrastructure. This is individual empowerment. Anyone can participate and be not just a consumer, but a producer as well. JONATHON: It’s a problem that people don’t have a voice, that everyday people don’t have a voice. And we knew that we could build some tools that could let them use the network that they already use to broadcast what was happening to them with a much larger audience. And if we can take that voice and give it a larger audience, then there’s potential for change. (music) ANDREAS: I have this belief that in 40 or 50 years, we’re going to look in the world and see we got it completely wrong that we allow a certain amount of the world to be so wealthy and abundant with resources and another to be completely the opposite. STANISLAV: Today, there are five billion people that have never used the Internet, for example. We’re looking at different ways to improve people’s lives and to connect these unconnected masses. ANDREAS: It always surprises me how ubiquitous mobile phone networks are today. You go to a place, like in the middle of the Himalayas, and there is data distribution almost everywhere. But car and road systems are limited. They are nonexistent in a big part of the world. So you have a huge part of the earth’s population being sort of disconnected when roads don’t exist. PAOLA: These last five kilometers or 10 kilometers that make transportation almost impossible are very, very expensive. So we’re pioneering the use of UAVs, personal flying vehicles, self-flying vehicles, for transportation. ANDREAS: Mobile phones allow us to basically spot a need, identify a need. As an example, in Papua New Guinea there is a tuberculosis epidemic right now. And they started testing patients. But they don’t have a way to transport those samples from the places where they collect them to the clinic. (music) PAOLA: You don’t need to have a road and a car. You just tap your app and have your vehicle take off. ANDREAS: We mark the location where we take off from. We mark the location where we want to land to. And then, we ask the vehicle to do an A-to-B. (music) (drone propellers humming) So you know, in this payload, there could be medicine or needles. There could be a sample that you just transported from a diagnostics clinic. We have this vision of the future that, you know, we want to go to this remote place that we haven’t been before. And we see our vehicles being used. And people are able to basically develop an economy using them. And you know, these types of use cases – they just unfold themselves, once you put the technology in the field. (music) STANISLAV: I believe that technology and progress in general have ended up in a lot of good things for humanity. JONATHON: Whether you’re gathering data about how the roads work or how refugees flow across the African continent- when you can build something that empowers people to solve their own problems, then you’ve actually made something that’s really valuable. (music)

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