THE BLOG

Modern Technology Has the Potential to Save Lives

27/02/2014 12:02 GMT | Updated 26/04/2014 10:59 BST

This week, I am at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

I am surrounded by some of the most technology advanced companies and extraordinary groundbreaking inventions the world has ever seen.

Across the sector, we are at a stage in our development that is truly mind-blowing.

But aside from providing new services and gadgets to relatively well-off individuals, primarily in the Western world, are we doing all we can to utilise our technological capacity to help those people who really need assistance?

Unfortunately, we aren't. Governments are failing to put enough resources into mobile health even though evidence suggests that we should.

For every dollar that is invested in natural disaster resilience, $4 is saved if a natural disaster strikes. Mobile health saves money, mobile health saves lives.

The mobile health space has grown enormously in recent years and the capability has widened. Mobile phones can now tackle disease and disasters and can act as a hugely influential preventative device.

I am the Founder and CEO of RegPoint, a health services company focusing on bringing wireless technology to the global health care community. We have created a system which has the ability to send SMS messages immediately to all mobile phones in a designated locality, pinpointing precise warnings, guidance or other information to a specific geographical region before a natural disaster strikes.

In addition to the funding challenges facing mobile health, Mark Zuckerberg's vision for Facebook and WhatsApp could scupper a unique opportunity in human history to improve the fortunes of mankind on a scale not seen since the discovery of penicillin.

His plan to monopolize modern communication on his social networks, if successful, will consign telecoms companies to the history books. And with them will go the one reliable means of messaging that can make a difference in natural disasters - SMS texts.

It's a fact that even now, even in amidst what seems like a never-ending technological revolution, the internet cannot be relied upon for communication following a tsunami, earthquake, volcano or other natural disaster.

After the 2004 tsunami, although internet connection was lost in most affected areas, there was still an ability to send SMS text messages which means that a disaster warning system can also act as an extremely effective form of communication after such a catastrophe.

History proves SMS messaging can be relied upon after a natural disaster. But this technology relies upon telecoms companies the world over.

Facebook's business plan may well make sense. Zuckerberg wants to be predominant and he wants to make more money. Nobody should begrudge him that.

But my message is to society at large. Citizens, other companies, governments.

We cannot allow SMS text messaging to become the next telegram or fax.

For its future demise may well make sense commercially, but it will not make sense for humanity and the safety of millions of men and women, who even in poverty stricken regions, very often own an old mobile that can connect to a reliable network operator.