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Smartphone can save lives in natural disasters

A smartphone software could quickly and accurately locate missing people, identify victims of malnutrition and effectively head people towards safe zones.

The smartphone system developed by Gavin Brown and his team Peter Sutton and Lloyd Henning at the University of Manchester is the 'REUNITE' mobile and web platform.

"Our results have demonstrated that mobile intelligent systems can be deployed in low-power, high-risk environments, to the benefit of all involved," said Brown.

In the aftermath of a major disaster, aid workers typically interview people who have been separated from their families, storing these records on paper documents, which can be lost, damaged or be illegible, according to a Manchester statement.

REUNITE records the initial interview using the smartphone, and uploads these onto a central server. These can then be accessed by trusted aid workers via computers in another location, who gather as much information as they can by liaising with other users in a similar manner to a social network, before passing details onto aid workers on the ground.

The interviews would be quickly transcribed into a web-searchable format which could be downloaded by relief workers on the ground, which can then relay the massage to survivors.

As part of the same research, Brown has also created software called 'Where's Safe', which quickly identifies safe areas for people to go to in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Brown's third software solution is HeightCatcher - an innovative tool which can quickly calculate infants who are suffering from malnutrition and work out what quantity of fluids they need.

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