Category Archives: Safety/Security

Vodafone New Zealand’s DriveSafe Program Addresses Texting-While-Driving

Car_Crash

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.

For more information about the DriveSafe program click link to Vodafone’s DriveSafe web page: http://www.vodafone.co.nz/apps-services/mobile-services/drive-safe/

To view the DriveSafe program profile on the SMS in Action Crowdmap page click here.

 

South African Insurance Companies Broadcast Damaging Weather Alerts via SMS

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.

Hail

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.

Where’s Safe – Evacuation Information via SMS

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.