Distracted driving is becoming an increasing problem as more and more technology in our vehicles competes for a driver’s attention. In the United States, texting while driving now exceeds driving while intoxicated as the greatest cause of death and injury for teenage drivers. In a study concluded in 2011, Researchers at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York found that “Fifty percent of high school students of driving age acknowledge texting while driving” (see Long Island Newsday article). However, the problem of texting while driving is not limited to a single age group or country. An excellent web site documenting the problem may be found here.
In response, New Zealand mobile services provider Vodafone created their DriveSafe program to help eliminate the temptation to text while driving and to promote roadway safety. Under this innovative service, drivers can remove the temptation to read or respond to text messages while driving. By texting “Drive On” to short code 760 prior to driving, a user’s text messages will be held until they have completed their drive. Individuals sending text messages to the driver will receive an automated reply such as “I’m driving at the moment. I’ll read your text as soon as it is safe to do so.”
When drivers are ready to check their messages they simply text “Drive Off” to the same short code. Messages received while DriveSafe is activated will then be available for review and reply.
The service is provided free of charge to Vodafone customers. In addition, there is no charge to the customer for auto-reply messages sent while the system DriveSafe system is active. If a driver forgets to deactivate DriveSafe the system automatically turns off after 24 hours.
Cardiac patients on the go can rest a little easier if they are equipped with a Medtronics pacemaker integrated with the medical device maker’s CareLink network. The pacemaker communicates with a cellular modem which accompanies the cardiac patient and will alert the patient’s doctor via email or SMS text message if any irregularities are noted in their heartbeat. The modem, when equipped with an international roaming SIM card, can send messages from anywhere in the world as long as it is connected to a cellular network. The type, threshold or degree of irregularity which triggers an alert can be pre-programmed into the device in advance by the cardiologist.
The seriousness of the heart problem can determine the type of message that is sent to the doctor. Less serious irregularities can trigger simply an email message while more serious problems result in a text message alert.
The pacemaker is one of a number of medical monitoring devices Medtronic makes which integrate with their CareLink network.
While there are many articles these days citing the impending demise of SMS as mobile App messaging platforms become more popular we believe there is still a significant role that basic text message service can play including automated sensors and data monitoring via SMS being just one.
Click here for a recent news article from the Times of India.
Click here for more information from the Medtronic CareLink Network.
South African insurance companies have experienced a significant increase in insurance claims from hail damage in recent years. Since 2011, insurance claims due to hail damage have grown by more than 3400 percent. Hail damage claims have increased so rapidly that South African insurance company Santam was prompted to create an infographic to discuss the problem.
As reported by South African financial web site MoneyWeb, insurance companies are now sending free text message alerts to their automobile insurance customers warning them when damaging hail storms are expected in their area. The alerts encourage insurance customers to move their vehicles under cover or take other protection measures. However, the companies say they will not decline claims from individuals unable to protect their vehicles when alerts are issued.
SokoText is an SMS-based “mobile, micro-franchised food logistics management system” – a long name for a simple but great idea.
SokoText is an SMS-based system developed by students of the London School of Economics created to help fresh produce kiosk micro-entrepreneurs leverage their purchasing power. Using SokoText, food kiosk proprietors aggregate their produce purchases to obtain better wholesale prices from suppliers. Typically, small-scale operators must buy produce in small lots dictated by the amount of their sales and available cash. SokoText aggregates the orders of individual kiosk owners to leverage their purchasing power and obtain better pricing by buying in larger lots. SokoText effectively creates a buying collective for kiosk operators thereby reducing fresh produce wholesale costs by 20 percent. Kiosk owners pass the savings along to their customers thereby increasing their sales.
Under SokoText, participating kiosk owners submit their order via an SMS message. Each individual order is consolidated with others by the SokoText system and a price quote is automatically sent back via SMS. In addition, SokoText operates conveniently located wholesale outlets where kiosk operators can pick up their purchase – each outlet designed to serve 150 kiosks. A successful pilot project has been operating in Mabatini, the Mathare Valley slum area outside Nairobi since August, 2013. The scalable concept not only helps small kiosk operators but improves the quantity, quality and variety of produce available to their customers.
SokoText was a finalist concept presented at the 2013 Hult Prize competition hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.
Where’s Safe is a prototype SMS-based platform developed during a 2010 hackathon conducted by students from the School of Computer Science of the University of Manchester. The platform can be used to manage and broadcast evacuation information during emergencies. Given how quickly technology changes it might seem as though a platform developed in 2010 would be outdated by now. However, this concept seems to be a good one and we would hope it would be carried forward to implementation in the field. If you have any information on subsequent development or implementation of this platform please let us know.