McAthy interviewed Annenberg Professor and Innovation Lab Director Gabriel Kahn to better understand how the app works and the possible benefits and challenges of its use.
The app, funded by a $600,000 grant from the Ahmanson Foundation, connects people during an emergency. In the event of a crisis, members of the community can post pictures and videos to the app that then plots them on an online public map that helps the community avoid or aid the situation.
According to McAthy, “The idea is that by engaging with the platform, members of the public can use the information to ‘make important decisions about their own safety’…The data provides a useful resource for the media, not only to see where stories are breaking, but make more informed decisions about where to distribute reporting resources.”
The article expands on the idea that the app has the potential to play an integral role in reporting on a crisis. McAthy points out that the updates and images posted by the community will give others, specifically the press, an idea of what each user is experiencing and put the size of the event into perspective.
“If you get 1,000, 2,000 or however many posts in a short time period, you can start to understand, looking at the map, how damage is concentrated, what the different issues are in different places, and you can start to piece together an understanding of the situation,” described Kahn in the article.
Kahn further described how the app can help news outlets in delivering accurate information in less time due to the concentration of civilian reporting in one place. He went on to reveal the current challenges of the app that include convincing and motivating the public to use yet another social platform.