Emergency App can Locate Missing People in Areas with No Signal

Apps and Software

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A new app has been developed that can be used in emergency situations even if the area has no phone signal.

Created by researchers from the Spanish university Universidad de Alicante, the new app can locate people who are in emergency situations in remote areas. The system, said the researchers, can be used in accidents that arise from forest fires, floods, and earthquakes, where the mobile phone signal is being affected because of the calamity.

App creator José Ángel Berná, who's also a professor at UA’s Higher Polytechnic School Department of Physics, Systems Engineering and Theory of the Signal, said: “We have designed an application that can be incorporated to any smartphone.” Berná specifies that the app produces a Wifi signal in the remote area. The signal automatically contains the coordinates or the location of the user with a brief message. This short message can be “I need help,” “I am injured,” or “I am disorientated.”

The team shared that they had to create a receptor device that is portable and used to rescue mountain shelters. The technology is designed with a small antenna that connects them to a cell phone. 

According to Berná, once the app has been turned on, it will periodically emit a signal. The professor adds that even if the user ends up being unconscious somewhere, the signal will continue for hours and sometimes even for days, giving the location coordinates.

Spain’s rescue services Guardia Civil and the Spanish Mountain Federation’s security committee have also expressed their belief that the technology needs an institutional backing as it is useful during an emergency.