There’s no question that the smartphone has now become a ubiquitous aspect of modern day life. More than half of the country’s cell phone users carry one of these incredible miniature supercomputers, and they are now utilized for a wide variety of tasks. Need to deposit a check? Skip the bank teller and do it all with your smartphone. Want to find the best houses available on the real estate market? Don’t worry about paying a realtor when you’ve got apps that can cover the same ground. Looking to create a viral campaign that will launch your brand into international superstardom? Produce and execute it from start to finish from your local coffee shop with that mobile device. Today’s smartphones provide an incredible range of features, but you’ve probably never looked to it to save your life. Those were the stakes for a brave group of individuals held hostage in Algeria, who now credit an iPhone for helping insure their escape.
The story has been covered by Reuters, the New York Times and the Huffington Post amongst many other major outlets, and it’s an incredible tale of determination, willpower and technology working in conjunction. Last week a gas worker from Romania named Liviu Floria was part of the hostage crisis at the Tiguentourine plant in Algeria. He spent forty-eight hours avoiding capture on site, before finally making his escape. He shared his incredible story, and it really does prove just how important these little devices can be.
According to Floria’s statement eight individuals made their escape in the cover of night, managing to climb a fence and rush off without being seen. But escaping the terrorists was only the beginning of their plight. They found themselves in the desert in the middle of the night, with nothing but a light far in the distance to use as a reference point. Luckily, Floria had his iPhone with him, and they were able to utilize its compass app. They didn’t have a cell phone signal, but the application doesn’t require one to work. The escapees used that digital compass to cross the desert for more than twelve hours and upwards of twenty miles before they were rescued.
It’s an incredible story, and Floria and his associates were the lucky ones. The terrorist situation, during which members of the Islamist Masked Brigade took over that factory ended in a bloody siege. Upwards of eighty individuals died at this natural gas facility in the Sahara desert, and there’s no telling whether Floria would have been one of that number. Would he have survived his escape before smartphones? Thankfully it is a question that doesn’t have to be answered.
Many others in recent years have praised smartphones for invaluable assistance in life or death situations. In general it is the first aid or CPR app that gets the credit. Just two months ago there was a widely-publicized story of a Texas woman who used an iPhone app to realize her husband was having a stroke. She was able to treat him effectively and get him to the proper hospital quicker thanks to the iTriage app, which probably ended up saving her husband’s life. So the next time you find yourself thinking, “Should I just sell my iPhone 4 and get something cheaper?” you might want to reconsider. You never know when that incredible little device could save your life.