Application Name: Disaster Alert
Description: Plots current global disasters and warnings, brings up links for more info.
Publisher’s website: Pacific Disaster Center
Version/date reviewed: v.1.1 / 3-28-11
Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2
The Pacific Disaster Center’s Disaster Alert app plots the position of current natural/manmade disasters and conditions of concern for the entire world. Events plotted include:
- Hurricane/Tropical Cyclone (global)
- Drought (global)
- Earthquake (global)
- Flood (global)
- National Weather Service High Surf (for Hawaii)
- National Weather Service High Wind (for Hawaii)
- National Weather Service Flood (for Hawaii)
- Manmade (global)
- Marine (global)
- Storm (global)
- Tsunami (global)
- Volcano (global)
- Nuclear disasters (like the current Japanese power plant situation)
With wildfires coming soon.
Initial view is of the Western Hemisphere, with locations of concern plotted with icons. Pressing the icon at lower left zooms out to worldwide view …
This is a standard Google Maps view, so +/- controls will appear if you tap on the screen; you can also pinch to zoom if supported on your phone. The other icon at the bottom right brings up a control to switch between Google Maps’ aerial hybrid view, and the standard road map view.
Once zoomed in, I thought that a tap or long-press would bring up more info – no dice. Finally tried a double-tap, and that brought up a pop-up info box for that icon. But sometimes a single tap will work, and a double-tap won’t; the program seems to be very sensitive to how and where you tap.
The info box contains basic info; tap anywhere else on the screen to get rid of it (don’t press the Back button, as this just zooms the map out to full world extent). Clicking on the blue arrow at right takes you to web page with more info …
… usually an official government source (here, the Smithsonian Global Volcanic Activity Report), but it varies.
From the menu, you can also bring up a list of all current disasters/warnings, with links to more info. A Time Zone setting lets you configure the alerts to show both your local time, and Universal Time (UTC, aka Greenwich Mean Time).
Other issues: The app was incredibly slow and responsive the first time I started it, but speeded up subsequently; I’m guessing it had to do some kind of initialization. You cannot exit the program with the Back button on the phone; you have to use the Exit option from the menu, or the Home key.
Final thoughts: Handy tool for keeping track of the world’s state, despite some minor quirks