Ever since the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan last week, the team at Life360 has been keeping our thoughts with all of the people who have been impacted by the tragedy.
In the past few days, many of our users and readers have asked us how families in Japan were able to use Life360 following the disaster. We shared the same concerns so we looked into our database to see what we could find out.
While our family safety service primarily has a U.S. audience (over 95% of our families are in the States), we saw that over 1,600 families in Japan (note: relative to the makeup of our user base, that would be hundreds of thousands of families in the U.S.) were able to use Life360’s mobile app following the earthquake to share their locations and reconnect with loved ones. Among those families, over 1,200 people actively sent a Check In which successfully delivered a message to their emergency contacts, providing their GPS coordinates and assurances that they were safe. For the exact numbers, please see the map at top.
Our records show that even in the heart of the disaster zone, SMS and data channels remained active when voice communications were overloaded (note: our voice system only works in North America), so we were able to capture almost all of our users’ locations and deliver 100% of messages that our server received via our email and push notification message servers. This allowed Life360 users to check on the status of their family members within seconds versus the hours or days it took many people who were relying on the phone system. While most people using Life360 in Japan were clearly outside of the danger zone (thank goodness), we’re glad to see that families all across the country were able to make use of Life360 to quickly and easily let their family members know that they were safe and out of harm’s way.
Additionally, it is interesting to note that almost 100% of our usage was through our smartphone application. When we first launched our emergency messenger service in 2009 (see video at end), most of our users were accessing it through our SMS interface, which required following instructions printed on a physical emergency card. It is quite astounding to see how quickly our mobile app has now become our most used product, and rendered what was previously our primary offering almost obsolete in just over a year’s time!
When natural disasters take place, it reminds all of us to make sure we’re prepared for the future. In addition to familiarizing yourself with technology such as Facebook, Twitter and Life360′s free family safety app for either your iPhone or Android phone, here are a few things to remember when trying to contact loved ones in the event of an emergency:
- If your call can’t get through, wait a few minutes. The voice network is likely overloaded, if not down. Try an alternative like sending a text (SMS) message.
- If you are able to get through, keep conversation short and limited to vital information.
- If you think you may not be able to remember phone numbers, get an Emergency ID that has a toll-free number that you can use to contact everyone in your family.
We should help those most in need right now. To make a donation to the Red Cross, click here.