Natural disaster - there's an app for that

Smartphones might just save your life.

Auckland Civil Defence today launched a free app that will alert people to impending natural disasters such as tsunamis and cyclones and keep them informed following major disruptions.

The app can be used on any smartphones, which are used by an estimated half a million Aucklanders.  

By synchronising with the Auckland Civil Defence website, the app will also keep Aucklanders posted on incidents such as road closures, floods, slips and severe wind warnings.

"With so many Aucklanders using smartphone devices, it made sense that any new warning system needed to embrace new technology,'' said Auckland councillor Michael Goudie, chairman of the Auckland Civil Defence Committee.

Goudie said with half the population active on Facebook, Aucklanders should also take responsibility in ''times of emergency'' to ensure their friends and family stayed informed.

Auckland Civil Defence controller Clive Manley said the Christchurch earthquake and Japan tsunami had taught Auckland a lot.

"Radio and television will continue to play a vital role in disseminating public alerts, but now we have added the hugely significant channel of personalised and immediate alerts to all those Aucklanders with smartphones,'' he said.

The launch comes ahead of the New Zealand ShakeOut national earthquake drill on September 26.

The Auckland Civil Defence app can be downloaded from a variety of sources. By searching for 'Auckland Civil Defence', iPhone users can download it from the Apple AppStore, while Android users can download it from the Google Play Android app store.

If you have another smartphone, you can open this in a mobile web browser and

save it to your home screen.

More information on the new public alert system is available at

Auckland Now