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4 location-based apps that might save you from the storm

Roy Povarchik: When a major winter storm or other disaster strikes, you need friends and information. Your smartphone can help
A view of the Yemin Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem covered in snow (photo credit: Anna Kaplan /Flash90)
A view of the Yemin Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem covered in snow (photo credit: Anna Kaplan /Flash90)

Wow, this winter storm came as a surprise – roads are blocked, people are snowed in, electricity is out. Basically, in comparison to what we’ve learned to expect from the Israeli winter, this past weekend looked like the beginning of a disaster movie.

While you can’t necessarily rely on the electric company to save you or your home Internet to work properly, you can still trust two things: 3G connectivity and the good of the heart of man.

When in trouble, keeping a good relationship with your neighbors or simply being able to easily reach out to them can make the difference between life or death, or maybe just between sitting alone in the cold or making the best of it and sitting down with a few good people and cheering up together. The people around you will make all the difference.

But how can you stay in touch with neighbors or tell which of your friends is nearby in time of need? It’s may be a cliché, but there’s an app for that.

4 apps that let you discover who’s around you

Find my Friends – The people you love

Yes, ‘Find my Friends’ is one of Apple’s creepiest apps. It’s an app designed solely to track where you’re friends are at any given time. Of course you can go off the grid – but you actually need to turn it off in the settings.

Before you really freak out, know that you don’t automatically start following whoever uses the app near you, or get followed by them. To start following people, you need to send a friend request to your contacts and be accepted by them.

Think about what it would be like to see which of your friends is nearby at the moment and invite them over instead of staying in the cold alone.


Good friends aren’t hard to find.
Good friends aren’t hard to find.


Meetey – Welcome neighbors

Meetey, though already hitting the 200K users mark, is a rather new Israeli startup, still in beta, that lets you discover your neighborhood by connecting between all the users based on their home-location. Which means you can really discover your neighborhood, not just random people walking near you.

Because Meetey encourages a ‘neighborly’ environment, the platform enhances the sense of community with status updates, messages, and a demographic-based search.

Are you new in the neighborhood? Have you lost your dog with a storm coming? Just post an update and your neighbors can see it and reach out to you. Don’t be a stranger.

join your neighbourhood
join your neighbourhood

Circle – Am I missing something?

Circle has come a long way since it first launched back in 2011. From an app that only lets you see which of your friends are nearby and where all your other friends are at the moment, Circle has become an app that resolves around events happening around you and the people engaging with them.

The app, while beautifully designed, is pretty basic. It identifies where you are and lets you see the discussions around topics you choose. If you have a friend that is always going to the coolest places you can follow his profile and know what are the best things to do that day.

Lets say electricity is cut off around you, but someone has invited everyone around to his house where he has a back up generator. Circle will be the app to find out about it.

What's happening around you
What’s happening around you

Foursquare – discover what’s nearby

Foursquare is the old reliable one. Yes, it’s more known for its check-in ability’s than its outreach and discovery features, but Foursquare has come a long way since it first launched.

With Foursquare’s new discovery features, you can see which of your friends is close by and search places to go to based on their category and proximity to you. Want to know where a specific friend is? Just go through your friend list and see where their latest check-in was.

The best thing about Foursquare is that if you’re selective about your group of friends you can see what’s the best place for you to be at the moment.

Explore the world around you
Explore the world around you

Location based apps are often misunderstood as ones that give power only to voyeurism, but the real wonder of location-based apps is their ability to establish location-based communities and connect us with the people around us, even in an age where we are mostly estranged from each other.

About the Author
Roy Povarchik is a consultant for community building for startups and brand, specialising in inbound and content marketing. Roy is a part of Blonde 2.0 PR team. Follow him on Twitter.
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