Saturday, August 19, 2006

When Technology Just Works

Technology is an awesome thing, and we've all seen how it can be used for both good and bad. For now, I like to focus on the good - and I'm not necessarily talking in terms of computers right now.

About two weeks ago or so, I was in an informal meeting at work when my phone vibrated. It wasn't a call - I could tell from the vibration pattern that I'd received a text message. Assuming it to be from a friend, I flipped the cover open and realised, no, this isn't from Matthew or anyone like that, this is actually important, dare I propose emergency-level information: an Amber Alery had just been issued in the Metro area, and, because I'd signed up some many months ago to receive the text alerts, I was now able to read, on my phone, within minutes of it originally being posted, an alert about a missing child. Now, granted, the message was somewhat cryptic, lacking any sort of punctuation or line breaks, but still, this was a neat thing: technology working for the better in order to help save lives.

The same thing happens on the interstates - when an Amber Alert is issued, the overhead electronic signs that normally tell you how long until the next major interchange or landmark change to display the alert information, along with phone number contact. To me, anyway, I think that's just really really neat. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to see how our modern marvels of the electronic age can be used for the good and protection of our citisens. Now granted, it still takes the vigilant eyes of the public to take the investigation from search to rescue, but it's that initial mass network of critical and life-saving information dissemination that makes it all possible.

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