The Global Alert Network app is linked to a national mobile traffic and weather alert system. In and of itself, traffic and weather alerts are not new, but the Global Alert Network app uses the GPS capabilities of your smartphone to deliver location-aware alerts that are relevant to you where you are right now, and it does so without needing any interaction from the user.
The app runs in the background and "wakes up" to issue alerts based upon established account preferences. Traffic alerts are issued relative to your current location and route, and weather alerts are issued in relationship to your immediate surroundings.
The Global Alert Network Website explains the unique value of the app. "There are no keys to push, no other applications to launch, and no need to touch the phone at all." This is especially valuable for alerting users of impending traffic or weather issues without distracting them while they are driving.
I use the Garmin StreetPilot app on my iPhone for navigating while I am driving. It uses real-time traffic conditions and automatically re-routes me around any backups to keep me moving and get me to my destination on time. But, that functionality only works if I am actively using the Garmin app for navigating. It doesn't provide any value if my iPhone is sitting idle on the seat next to me.
A University of Utah study found that drivers on mobile phones are more impaired that drivers with .08 blood alcohol content--a DUI in every state. Other studies report that distracted driving has passed alcohol-related incidents to be the number one killer of American teens. An app that can alert you to impending serious conditions without taking your focus off of the road could be a lifesaver--for you, and the vehicles around you.
Recent weather conditions--and incidents like the tragedy that struck one Missouri teen driving home from graduation when a tornado ripped through town--demonstrate why an app like this could be valuable. With 2011 now the deadliest tornado season on record since the 1950's, and the NOAA predicting a busy hurricane season, location-aware alerts could save your life.
The Global Alert Network app is available for free for BlackBerry and Android smartphones. An iPhone version is under development. Once the iOS version is available, I will have to add that to my list of must-have apps.