Despite the gloomy picture painted in the press today, with coverage overshadowed by terrorism, political turmoil, global economic developments and the Brexit decision, new research by the World Travel & Tourism council (WTTC) predicts a growth of 3.1% for the travel industry in 2016.
Ryan Hanly is the CEO & Co-Founder of Travello, an app to discover and connect with other like-minded travelers, share plans and tips, find free WiFi in the most remote locations, and find great events while on the move.
The majority of resilient travelers refuse to let these dark clouds stop them from enjoying and exploring this beautiful planet of ours.
While in our home countries, most of us can sleep safely knowing that we have a range of well-funded, staffed and equipped emergency services only a phone call away, but there’s always a chance you will find yourself in a situation in which immediate help is not available.
Increasingly, smartphone apps and technological devices are being used to save lives in challenging situations. In the aftermath of the recent earthquake in central Italy, the Red Cross urged locals to turn off their wifi passwords to allow emergency services access, but also in the chance that trapped survivors could use their smartphones to call for help.
So what new technology can we rely on to keep us safe when on the road?
Sygic Family Locator
When travelling, it is easy to fall off the grid for lengthy periods due to long trips in the wilderness, staying in areas without WiFi or simply because you are just having too much fun. However, for loved ones back home, it can be easy to jump to the worst conclusion when messages stop arriving. Since Facebook and other leading social media platforms rolled out location services, there has been a media backlash due to privacy concerns, however when traveling in foreign countries these tools could potentially save lives.
A few years too late for Liam Neeson’s character in ‘Taken’, successful GPS driving tool manufacturer Sygic has released it’s Family Locator app, which allows users to connect their loved ones to a private GPS powered locator network. While young people may not like the idea of being constantly monitored from back home, this new tech could potentially save lives, if not at least a little stress for concerned parents and loved ones.
The app allows users to see the location of their family in real time on a map, and stay in touch with instant messages. It also allows parents to set ‘safe and danger zones’ for their children, and sends automatic updates if the child leaves or enters a flagged zone such as a school or playground.
If users are concerned about the wellbeing of their loved one, they can click an S.O.S. button which sends an exact GPS location which they can pass to emergency services.
When we find ourselves in foreign countries, language barriers can often make it hard for us to call for help, and communicate our predicament effectively. Miscommunication at a time of crisis – natural disasters, road traffic accidents, and so on – could be fatal. While the emergency services in most developed countries can now pinpoint locations from a phone call, emergency dispatchers still rely on a spoken description of what has happened, so they can offer life-saving medical advice, and send the appropriate teams to the scene.
82% of people seriously injured in road accidents worldwide die before they arrive at a hospital due to a lack of lifesaving emergency treatment that could be offered at the roadside, which can often be blamed on poor communication about the location, and severity of the situation to emergency services.
Israeli startup Reporty thinks it has the answer. It has created a mobile app and platform dubbed the ‘999 Instagram’ which allows users to communicate with emergency service with video calls to demonstrate exactly where they are, and what the problem is without having to describe the crisis over the phone. The mobile platform is supported by an Advanced Positioning System, but is set to automatically shut off GPS functions when the app is not in use, to avoid draining device’s batteries.
The technology has already been rolled out in Israel and adopted by Israeli ambulance services but its creators aim to export its technology around the world in the near future. In an interview with Bloomberg, the creators suggested that lives could have been saved in last year’s terrorist attacks at the Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris, had the police been able to video call with victims trapped inside.
All be 1
When you finally reach your destination after a long trip, one can only hope that your chosen accommodation will keep you safe. However, over the last couple of years there have been a number of attacks from intruders who have entered hostels, hotels, or cabins. You can never be too careful.
To combat this problem All be 1 has created a personal security alarm which can keep you safe when sleeping and keeps an eye on your luggage and belongings among many other functions.
Using advanced infrared technology, All be 1 can alert users when someone enters your home or hotel room uninvited, or when someone tampers with personal belongings. Rather than sounding an alarm, which could spook the intruder, the device notifies the user on their smartphone, allowing them to seek a safe space and call the emergency services. The smart toggle also has a range of other functions, such as a temperature monitor, fitness tracker and UV monitor, and can be attached to luggage and used as a GPS tracker when on the move.
While it might not be a life or death situation, losing your luggage while travelling can really put a damper on your trip, and can leave you in a difficult situation if you lose your identification, cash and credit cards.
Bluesmart has created smart a range of smart luggage accessories to combat theft or misplacement of your belongings while on the move. The hi-tech and durable suitcases allow users to track the location of their luggage via GPS, lock bags remotely, and even check the weight of the luggage via their smartphone to avoid any last minute airport dilemmas. Users can also charge smartphones and other devices directly from the luggage, which could save travelers from sticky situations when off the beaten track or while in between destinations.
Travelers are advised to always play it safe when choosing their travel routes, and take advantage of their home countries foreign travel recommendations at all times. However, it is up to travelers themselves to stay one step ahead of threats by harnessing new technology which can keep them and their traveling partners safe while on the move.