Macau Matters | Emergency Button App

Richard Whitfield

Over Summer I spent two months living in the family home with my father in Australia. While there he explained the red emergency button on his old-fashioned traditional mobile phone – at any time in the case of a medical or other emergency he can simply press the button and the government emergency services and family members are contacted. My siblings organized this for him after my mother died because he now normally lives alone in the big house they shared for 60 years and which he will never leave.

Recently, I went for a long walk along the coast of Coloane Island and about halfway through it I realized that I had bitten off more than I could chew and was wishing that I had an emergency button on my mobile phone!  (There are many excellent walks in Coloane, but they need lots, lots more seating – so you can stop, rest and enjoy the views. But this is a story for another day.)

Something like the smartphone App would be really useful in Macau. With the App installed you simply “press” one button to send an sms and email to your emergency contacts. The message includes a Google maps link showing your current GPS location. This seems to be an excellent idea for children and elderly relatives, indeed, for everybody. The Australian government emergency services have also developed an App (Emergency+) so you can easily call police, the fire brigade, ambulance or other emergency services by pressing simple buttons on your smartphone.

I would happily pay MOP10/month for a good Macau Emergency App – I now pay this much for a virtually useless voice mailbox. Useful features of such an App might include:

– SMS/email/phone call directly to emergency services by pressing a single button with an operator at the other end answering the calls who speaks Cantonese, Mandarin and English; with secondary SMS/email messages going to my personalized contact list

– GPS location passed to emergency services – my wife once called a Macau ambulance for me but could not explain the location and we listened to the siren for some time as the ambulance hunted around looking for us

– Important medical information about me passed to emergency services – blood type, allergies, current medications, special needs, etc

– (Ideally), like Uber, a map showing the real-time location of the responding emergency services personnel

Perhaps the Macau government emergency services can do a contract with a smaller Macau based software company to develop such an App and thus improve our emergency services. All Macau residents could then be encouraged to install and use the App in case of emergency. Just once, I would really like to see Macau leading the way internationally in improving some aspect of the local quality of life. (I would be more than happy to consult with them to make sure a good service was developed.)

Tourists visiting Macau could even be encouraged to download and install this App so that they can easily call for emergency assistance – tourists often have particular difficulties in such situations.

Of course, such an App is no use if you do not have a smartphone, but people without one are becoming increasingly rare, and in the future I believe that virtually everybody from the age of about 5 upwards will carry one.

Categories Opinion