Disasters: There Needs to Be an App for That
The world needs top-notch science apps: Daniel Miller
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Apr 1, 2014 11:53 AM CDT
Washington Air National Guardsmen methodically make their way through the mud and wreckage left behind by Saturday's mudslide near Oso, Wash., Friday, March 28, 2014.   (AP Photo/Washington National Guard, Spc. Matthew Sissel, 122D PAOC)

(Newser) – Enough with the online shopping and Angry Birds: We need apps just as handy to serve a more noble purpose. Daniel Miller warned of the Washington state mudslide ahead of time, but the information he provided wasn't readily accessible to those who would be affected, he writes in the Guardian: "My work wasn’t ignored. But only engineers could read it, or at least only engineers wanted to." And when scientists pushed to move people out of the area permanently, locals weren't exactly enthusiastic.

The bottom line: The landslide that has killed dozens was preceded by warning signs, and we should have paid attention. "Can we nurture a culture that gets people listening to scientists?" Miller asks. Eventually, he believes, "there will come a day when we can pull up maps on our iPhones that show known landslide hazards as prominently as directions to the nearest barber shop. Let’s make that day come sooner." We've got plenty of Internet know-how; let's devote it to warning systems. "It's time for commerce and nonprofits to collide with an Angry Birds for disaster preparedness." Click for Miller's full piece.

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Ezekiel 25:17
Apr 2, 2014 7:34 PM CDT
Red Cross has some very good apps for that, well maybe no land slides. They do have them for earthquakes, tornadoes, and wildfires.
Apr 1, 2014 2:48 PM CDT
The thing was, I don't know exactly all the details, but as the information was known by an outside party, hired by someone for SOME reason in the *1950s*!!! and passed on to the Army Corps of Engineers again, in the 1950s!!! that this was an imminent hazard, yet for likely several reasons, locals ignored and overlooked these warnings and now are dealing with the consequences. I'm curious to know who prompted and why the initial hazard eval was noted in the 1950s.
Apr 1, 2014 12:47 PM CDT
It's hard to get people to make once-in-a-lifetime events part of their daily life. It would be great to have disaster prevention and amelioration information available as conveniently as Angry Birds is, but there is little market for it. And the market that might exist -- those who worry about disasters on a daily basis -- may not be well-served by the app, having their fears stoked multiple times a day. It is the province of scientists and other specialists to identify causes for concern. It is then incumbent on them, and/or the institutions that support their work, to force civic and political leaders to confront them. It is the job of those leaders to plan for possibilities with a seriousness that matches their likelihood, and it is the job of regular citizens to hold their leaders' feet to the fire.