A disaster does not give one time to prepare and usually strikes when it is least expected. You might not be able to avoid a calamity completely, but once you are in the middle of it, timely assistance and some common sense can save countless lives. If you ever find yourself stranded somewhere due to a hurricane or earthquake, the first thing you’re bound to do is reach for your cellphone to call for help or to check on your loved ones. It is for such situations that Microsoft has released HelpBridge for iOS (Update: Now available on Android and Windows Phone as well). This useful app lets you create groups of important contacts that you can instantly get in touch with in case of an emergency. The app lets you contact others via Facebook, email and SMS. Apart from being your aid during emergencies, HelpBridge is also a great medium for finding ways you can reach out to others who are in need. Users get recommendations for volunteering and donating to various causes, along with every necessary detail regarding the philanthropic organizations listed in the app.
A Facebook or Microsoft account can be used to log in to HelpBridge. Once you have registered for the service, the app asks for permission to access local contacts, which it requires to create emergency groups. The app offers the option to create multiple groups for different situations. Even if you skip group configuration during the initial set up, they can be created or altered later from the app’s options menu.
There are two large tiles on the main page labeled ‘I need help’ and ‘I’m OK’. If you just want to let your loved ones know that you’re safe, hit the I’m OK tile. You can add your location to the message, and any group to the recipient list. The message you type is sent via email, SMS and over Facebook to everyone in the selected groups. The ‘I need help’ template alerts your contacts that you’re in need of assistance, sending them your current location via Bing Maps.
The two aforementioned red tiles are for getting you out of trouble during emergencies, but there’s more to HelpBridge than that. The app provides the perfect way of donating time, money and goods to different disaster relief and philanthropic organizations easily. There are separate sections in the app for causes that accept goods, those you can help monetarily via PayPal and others that just need you to volunteer. Each organization has a page of its own in the app, where users can view its manifesto, contact information and methods for contributing.
In a nut shell, HelpBridge is a free app that all users should take a few moments to set it up on their iDevices, as you never know when an app of this type could save your life or help you save someone else’s.
Update: The app is also available for Windows Phone and Android now. You can download the respective versions from the links provided below.