New App Lets You Help First-Responders in Terror Attacks

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A witness to the Barcelona attack in August 2017 (Photo: PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images)
A witness to the Barcelona attack in August 2017 (Photo: PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images)

A new app being developed will turn a smartphone into an intelligence-gathering device during a terror attack or other emergency situation, The Weekend Australian reported.

The app will allow citizens to collect information through audio or video recordings and send it to a centralized cloud platform so that police, first responders and the like can get accurate information during an attack.

The idea for the app came after the attack at the Lindt Café in downtown Sydney in 2014 where a terrorist held 18 people hostage. During the 16-hour siege that ensued, first responders did not have access to real-time information from the hostages themselves, greatly hampering their ability to act.

The citizen-centric app, which is being developed by The Citadel Group in Australia, can also be used to crowdsource information in the event of car-jackings, kidnappings and the like.

“Now emergency services can see what people are seeing, hear what people are hearing and understand whether it’s a single incident or coordinated attack,” said Citadel CEO Daren Stanley.

“Instead of three separate incidents being called in separately and treated individually, the in-built analytics of this platform determines that there are three incidents reported within two kilometers of each other which are atypical and may be a coordinated attack. Traditionally that sort of insight may take hours to develop — this app makes it seamless.”

The fact that the information is stored on a cloud platform means that “you can do it at a pace and at a cost that you could never do using traditional platforms,” Stanley added.

Citadel also plans to use the app as a prototype to develop similar apps in the fields of welfare and health services.

The opposite approach to terror attacks is currently being taken in Singapore, which just passed a law giving the government the power to  block all electronic communications at the scene of a  terror attack or other “serious incident.”

This means that in the event of a terrorist attack, for example, all news coverage at the scene, as well as cell phone communications, etc., would be shut down. The Singapore government’s rationale for the law is that information reported live – whether by media outlets or private citizens – can inadvertently aid the terrorists. In addition, cell phones can be used to activate bombs, thus a primary attack can be used as the bait to lure more people to the site for a secondary and possibly more deadly attack.



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