What People Need to Learn About Using Walkie Talkie Apps in Natural Disasters
Regardless how prepared people are, nature appears to be always ahead. The most highlighted natural disasters in 2017 were the Hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, which struck some parts of the United States and the Caribbean Islands in August/September 2017. Hurricane Harvey was a category 4 storm and considered as the most damaging natural disaster in the US history. It caused 180 billion in damage and affected 13 million people. Hurricane Irma, on the other hand, killed at least 134 people and caused massive damage across the Caribbean Islands and several states in the US.
The profound impact these hurricanes had to her affected areas made people write articles about how to make use of today’s technology in dealing with natural disasters. One of the most highlighted was the right communication tools for use during a disaster. People are aware that the usual means of communication are limited or even unavailable completely as cell towers most likely shut down during disasters. Thus, they looked for an alternative that is more applicable.
Many people would say that two-ways radio walkie talkie has been proven as the most appropriate means of communication for disasters. But the thing is, not everyone has a radio walkie talkie device. So, people tried to look for another alternative that utilizes a tool that everyone has, such as a smartphone.
During the Hurricane Harvey, a volunteer organization used a walkie talkie app to mobilize their rescuers, and there were also stranded victims who sent messages asking for help via this app. All of a sudden, people found out about this relatively unknown communication app and downloaded it to their phone as a precaution towards the upcoming Hurricane Irma. And that was how Zello App made its way to fame.
The aftermath related to this was the many frustrated comments on App Store and Play Store from users who downloaded the push to talk app as anticipation to the disasters. Since many of them downloaded the app without knowing exactly the features and limitations, they put a lot of expectations to the PTT app beyond what it can actually do.
So, what do people need to learn about using walkie talkie apps for disasters? Here are some of them:
- Walkie talkie apps work on cell networks or a wi-fi connection
- Communicating using walkie talkie apps may take several steps longer than with two ways radio walkie talkies
3. Press the app’s icon.
4. On the app’s home screen, press the group/channel/contact name to open the chat room.
5. Start talking/sending voice messages.
In an urgent situation, such as in the middle of a hurricane, it can be troublesome having to go through all the above steps just to send a message. Luckily, there’s another mobile app that helps in such cases by shortening the steps into one single step only. With Fast Talkie, users can communicate with their walkie talkie apps directly from a locked screen. It makes communicating with push to talk apps faster and easier, which is crucial in the middle of disasters.
- The use of walkie-talkie headsets is required for better communication with walkie talkie apps
- You need to join groups/channels or add the other users to communicate
The above information applies to all walkie talkie apps there are in the market. However, the differences in interface and features on each app may also have direct impact on functionality and ease of use crucial in disaster situations.
For example, using a headset on Zello App requires several steps to setup the headset’s buttons, whereas on VoicePing all you need to do is just to plug the headset into the smartphone and you’re all set to send and listen to messages via the app. It’s very useful in the middle of a disaster as it can be challenging to remember details or instructions.
Another example is the text messaging interface. VoicePing’s conversation view makes following the conversation way easier compared to Zello’s texting interface.
By knowing the differences regarding push-to-talk apps, people can know what to expect when they’re using them for urgent situations. They will also be able to choose the push-to-talk app they’re most comfortable with and create backup plans to anticipate the drawbacks of walkie talkie apps at the same time. This way hopefully, more people are being helped by push-to-talk apps, instead of feeling frustrated and disappointed by them.