You might have heard or seen in the news this week, the story about four teenagers from Canberra, lost in the bush, who were rescued after downloading an emergency app that allowed authorities to pinpoint their location.
After phoning 000, they were instructed to download the ‘Emergency +’ app – after the GPS function on their phones failed to help rescuers.
‘Emergency +’ is a smartphone app developed by Australia’s emergency services and their Government and industry partners, “to help people to call the right number at the right time, anywhere in Australia”. The app uses a mobile phone’s GPS functionality so callers can provide emergency call-takers with their location information as determined by their smart phone.
There are apps for children and young people, for families and older people, for parents and grandparents, for farmers, musicians, small business people, environmentalists, amateur scientists and astronomers, birdwatchers, bush walkers, fishers, travelers, tourists, health nuts and fact lovers.
It would be interesting to know if there was a sudden rush of people downloading the app after that news.
A whole bunch of useful apps
In fact there are loads of really useful apps for your smartphone or tablet, that have been developed by or with government in Australia to do a huge range of things.
Perhaps you have already discovered the myGov ‘portal’ and app which combines messages and records from Medicare, the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink and Child Support in one secure inbox. Staff at these offices have been encouraging clients visiting the offices to try using myGov. They’re so keen, they’re spending time teaching and supporting people, one-on-one.
You might also have come across the ABC app that lets you listen to any ABC radio station around the country and save programs for later. And you have probably discovered the joys of ABC iView – the ABC TV ‘catch-up’ app that allows you to watch programs you have missed and sometimes whole series on your tablet or internet-enabled television.
But there are so many more. There are apps for children and young people, for families and older people, for parents and grandparents, for farmers, musicians, small business people, environmentalists, amateur scientists and astronomers, birdwatchers, bush walkers, fishers, travelers, tourists, health nuts and fact lovers.
You can get apps that will:
- Teach you to tie knots (Learning the Ropes – Royal Australian Navy)
- Develop a marketing plan for your business (MarketMyBiz – Department of Industry, Innovation and Science)
- Help you to give up smoking (My QuitBuddy – Australian National Preventive Health Agency)
- Find the nearest toilet anywhere in Australia (National Public Toilet Map – Department of Social Services)
- Give you customised workouts to build up your pelvic floor function and reduce the risk of bladder and bowel problems (Pelvic Floor First – Continence Foundation of Australia)
- Tell you your rights as a shopper with advice on things like refunds, warranties and lay-bys as well as what to look for if you want to buy food that comes from a particular country. (ACCC Shopper – Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)
- Ensure you have accurate information about the economy (Access to 33 key economic indicators including CPI, GDP and unemployment. (ABS Stats – Australian Bureau of Statistics)
- Put the post office in your pocket – enabling you to view and track parcel items, pay bills online, calculate postage costs, search for a postcode, find a nearby posting box and locate any Australia Post retail outlet. (Australia Post app)
- Become an amateur marine scientist when you visit the Great Barrier Reef – “Capture, submit and share your sightings, photographs and video recordings of marine animals and incidents while you are still on the Reef. (Eye on the Reef – Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority)
- Plan a trip to Canberra – “Visitors can plan their trip to the Nation’s Capital and search for events, attractions and public facilities in the territory.” (Canberra Guide – National Capital Authority)
- Check out the energy profile of appliances before you buy – How much will it cost to power? (Energy rating – Department of Industry, Innovation and Science)
- Find out if there are fires nearby via the official app for information on bushfires. Information from the fire agencies in the Australian states and territories and in New Zealand. Provides information on current incidents and on total fire bans. (Fires Near Me – Developed by the NSW Rural Fire Service).
- Search the National Library of Australia (National Library of Australia Catalogue)
Run that Town
Reckon you could do a better job at running your local council? You can road test your skills at planning and local politics with an app from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that lets you play an interactive strategy game with real census data. Called Run That Town “it puts you in charge of any Australian neighbourhood and challenges you to develop the area and make decisions that will sway popular opinion in your favour.”
They are all free of course. So much to explore and learn. You can check out the whole list here