Dan Rowinski's Mobile Platform

By Dan Rowinski

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U.S. helps develop 'panic button' for pro-democracy rebels

The Mobile Platform Item of the Week has seen a variety of entries recently. A good part of that was to show a cross-section of what was happening at CTIA Wireless 2011 in Orlando but for the most part I have been looking to find diverse examples of mobile and social services that catch my eye. Sometimes it is a device. Sometimes a service. Sometimes it is an app.

Reports have come out this week that the U.S. government is helping to fund an app that can help pro-democracy protesters in their fight for freedom and equality across the globe.

Sounds like a worthy cause. So, we will give it the App of the Week.

What is it?

According to the website ITProPortal (and reported by The Daily Mail) it is "panic button" for pro-democracy activists that will allow them to wipe data from their cell phones and send alerts to fellow campaigners if their mobiles get confiscated.”

It is being funded by the U.S. government as a way to help activists and rebels protect sensitive data and alert fellow conspirators.

What is the buzz?

Social media and mobile phones have taken on new importance around the world as the Internet makes information and communications channels more ubiquitous. The recent uprisings across the Middle East have showed the importance of mobile communications, and authorities in turn are recognizing that cutting off activists' modes of communication is paramount to staying in power.

The United States has sought ways to help these rebels and has supported activists in places like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, as turmoil spreads in northern Africa and into the Middle East.

Why does government care?

Normally this is the part where I have to twist the app/service/device into some type of federal enterprise utility. In this case, the U.S. is the backing the app, so it is pretty obvious why the government cares.

Why do I care?

Multiple reasons. Foremost, I would love to the federal government get more involved in funding and developing more mobile applications. That does not have to mean always providing the rebels and activists of the world with new solutions, but it is a start. Some agencies are developing apps for internal use, such as data discovery and intra-office communications.

As a person who has a bachelor’s degree in history, I am keen on studying how new methods of communications break down barriers in all stages of socio-economic and political environments. Social media and mobile technology have played big parts in spreading communications and information in the Middle East in ways that were previously unavailable to the region and the effect has been seen on a grand scale in dramatic fashion.

Posted by Dan Rowinski on Apr 01, 2011 at 12:19 PM


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