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We are now going on two weeks since Hurricane Sandy slammed parts of the east coast and a day since Nor’easter Athena added insult to injury. The recovery from these two events will be weeks in some areas and years in others. As the recovery progresses it is also a time to assess and make recommendations for better technology preparedness. Here are 6 recommendations for emergency enhancements to technology for moving us all forward and better preparing for the next event:

For the smartphone manufacturers and software developers:
1. Increase battery life on the smartphones. There is absolutely no reason why a smartphone’s battery doesn’t last for more than 24 hours. If you can not increase the life of the battery go back to the old way of giving us the ability to buy extra batteries and a battery charger so we can remove the dead battery and put in a freshly charged one. I remember having a battery charger for an old phone of mine and would bring the spare with me. Today the phone is sealed and you can’t get access to the battery. 
2. Develop a switch that automatically toggles off all apps draining the battery and immediately converts the phone into two uses: phone and text. Yes, we Tweet and use Facebook and every other form of social media. But in emergencies we need to be able to have the ability to cut all the power to those apps and save it for the emergency call or contact. If the phone software developers can not develop this I’m sure some twelve year old will develop an app and sell it on iTunes  within a week of this post. Just give me credit and 10 cents per app sold and we can call it even!!!
3. Develop and sell, at no additional cost, quick charging cords for home and cars. My car became the largest and most consistent phone charger but I had to spend lots of time in the car to assure I had enough battery life. 

For social media:
4. There should be some consistency with the hashtag being used on Twitter for an emergency. For this storm there was #Frankenstorm, #Sandy, #HurricaneSandy and others. If the weather channel can now name winter storms, then please provide the hashtag. The information being provided through social media was outstanding but at times it was difficult to track with the different hashtags for the same event. 
5. A number of new Facebook pages sprung up to provide information, support and resources during the storm. They were outstanding resources. However, we can not forget that for users engaging this resource there comes great responsibility. Weather events of this magnitude require accurate information with personal opinions left for another time. So many times during the storm great information was being posted but it was sandwiched between personal comments or inappropriate statements. 

For the good old phone company:
6. Years ago when the power went out your phone still worked. This was because your phone was hardwired to the house and was not reliant on a server or the cable company. Now the power goes out and so does your house phone. This is a dangerous situation. The phone company or cable company needs to look into ways of improving this situation. A battery back-up that lasts for 6 hours is not the answer. 

It’s important to assess and make recommendations after every emergency situation. The above are focused on technology and how a major storm with long term recovery can affect our ability to communicate, provide assistance and recover. Technology is wonderful, I can not live without it, but in tough times we need to have it functional. Feel free to add to my list by commenting on this blog.

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