When networks become clogged, checking on a family member or friend’s safety can be challenging. Facebook created a method whereby people can find out if someone is okay. Called Safety Check, this new iOS, Android, feature phone, and desktop tool is being launched by Facebook.
By using information to include current city, location of last check-in, and the location tracking feature, Nearby Friends, the Safety Check tool can determine if a person is in the area of a disaster. For example, if in a hurricane zone with an impending storm, a push notification will be sent asking if the user is okay.
In response, the person would simply swipe on the received notification and then tap “I’m safe” or “I’m not in the area”. From there, the information will be used by Facebook to create a story that is then posted to friends via a News Feed. In addition, the Safety Check tool makes it possible to check on other friends nearby and also mark them as safe.
More and more, people are turning to Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends and thanks to Safety Check, the process is streamlined. One user who used the tool says it works great. While in San Francisco during the latest earthquake that hit Napa Valley, the individual had the ability to quickly tap “I’m safe” rather than respond to a barrage of text messages from worried family and friends.
The Safety Check tool was created in Japan in 2001 in response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami disaster. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook who was in Japan when Safety Check’s launch was announced said that being there was meaningful since Japan’s disasters inspired the design and development of this tool. He added that Facebook is excited to now be able to offer it to the rest of the world.
While many people are thrilled with Facebook’s Safety Check tool, this is not the first social media site to offer some type of emergency system. In 2013, Twitter introduced an alert system, giving users the option of choosing to receive push notifications from law enforcement agencies, as well as other organizations to include the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
However, Twitter Alerts provides real-time information pertaining to disasters opposed to helping users communicate with loved ones. Another social network, Hyperlocal, offers its own version of a safety tool known as Nextdoor. With this, alerts can be sent to neighbors but in order to work, an actual message must be typed out.
What makes Safety Check unique is that a response can be given with a tap of the screen. This means within seconds, family members and friends are provided reassurance.