Amidst all the tragedy dealt by the earthquake in Haiti, there have also been inspiring tales of coping and survival — some occasioned by the wonders of modern technology.
Consider the cell phone and its muscular cousin, Apple’s versatile iPhone.
The iPhone was the star of Dan Woolley’s self-rescue effort. Woolley, an American filmmaker, was in Haiti when the earthquake buried him in rubble. Help would not arrive until three days later. So he consulted an iPhone application to learn how to make a tourniquet for his leg and bandage his own head wound. Without the software, Woolley might not have survived.
Few in Haiti have iPhones, but many have access to some kind of cell phone. For weeks after the earthquake, electricity was out. Landlines were dead too. But in a patchy way the cellular network was up within days. Voice calls remained iffy, but you could easily send text messages.
Without electricity, though, how to power up a drained cell phone and contact a loved one? That’s where street-corner entrepreneurs came in, hooking up power strips to car batteries and charging 40 cents or so to charge a cell.
We often take technology for granted. But the high-tech that makes life easier in normal times can also help us contend with disaster. As do the markets that make the technology and its maintenance possible.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.