I’m sure as many of you have heard, there was a mass shooting in Munich, Germany earlier today. Because of my job, I spend some time online each day perusing the news and that was one story I did not need coming across my feed. Well, quite frankly, all of the stories that I find myself reading on a daily basis could just as well disappear into the journalistic ether if I was being completely honest.
This one in particular struck close to home because I have extended family and friends in Germany and one in particular who was likely in Munich at the time. I’m relieved to say that everyone I know is safe. Sadly, not everyone can say the same, and my heart breaks for the people who lost loved ones and friends.
I know my friends are safe a half a world away because of a simple (well, not so simple, as I have no doubt whatsoever that the coding to create it was amazingly intricate) Facebook App called “Safety Check.” This genuinely useful application is activated in times of disaster, whether natural or man-made, and allows the Facebook user to “check-in” so his or her friends and family can rest easy and have some peace of mind, knowing they are safe.
While the app was originally created for use during earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and such when cell service likely wouldn’t be available due to downed towers, or when landlines might be rendered useless, (in fact, its development started after the Nepal earthquake), it has evolved into a much-needed and used service when mass shootings or terrorist attacks occur and cell towers are simply overloaded with people tracking down their loved ones.
And while I am so very grateful for the absolutely brilliant minds behind the creation of this genius app, and I’m glad it exists — for purely selfish reasons as well as on behalf of the millions (if not billions) of other people who surely benefit from its use — I wish, oh how I wish, it weren’t needed quite so much.