This article from the Bangkok Post Tech discusses a new app developed for Android phones that allows user to take photos of flooded areas and submit them to disaster management agencies. The software is called Asign (Adaptive System for Image Communication over Global Networks) and can be accessed by Android users or by anyone with an internet connection on their computer. The user uploads a photo that the software automatically geo-locates, sizes according to bandwidth and sends to a web server where the location of the photo is shown on a map, and the photo can be further shared with individuals and groups, even in high resolution if needed. The program was developed by AnsuR Technologies of Norway and the server is therefore housed in Norway but it is possible for the server to be moved to Thailand in the future. The program is valuable because it allows interaction between the disasters victims and the people who are trying to help them. It allows disaster management agencies to asses the flooding based on images coming from the affected areas, and the geo-locating tells the agencies exactly where the photos are coming from.
I thought this app and software seem like a great idea that could potentially be extremely helpful during a flooding disaster, but my biggest doubt was the availability of internet and phone access during such a disaster. Living outside New Orleans during Katrina, I know that my mobile phone didn’t work at all for at least a week after the storm and that the network in our area was unreliable for at least an entire month. I didn’t have a data plan or access to the internet on my phone in 2005, but I can only assume that those services would not have been functioning either.
Do you think that lack of access to mobile service or the internet after a disaster is a potential flaw in the Asign program? Can you think of anyways to combat this problem?