Disasters: There Needs to Be an App for That

The world needs top-notch science apps: Daniel Miller
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2014 11:53 AM CDT
Disasters: There Needs to Be an App for That
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)

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. (More mudslide stories.)

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