Google Latitude Could Save A Life

Wednesday, March 4th 2009, 9:43 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Technology makes it easier to stay in touch than ever before.  You can email your cousin in Japan, text your mother in Texas or have web camera conversations with your entire family.  Now, Google has taken that togetherness one step further.  You can also track someone's every move and that could be used to save a life.

Most of us are aware of Google Maps, the computer program that not only lets you find addresses, but also allows you to see the actual building.  A new feature within Google Maps now lets you keep track of people.

It's called Google Latitude and once downloaded onto a mobile device, it can track the user's movements.  Then, it shows that location on a map for family and friends to see, so they can know where you are all the time.

For a demonstration, some employees of The News On 6 downloaded Google Latitude and shared their locations.

Privacy is always a big concern with programs like Google Latitude, so no one can see you or vice versa unless everyone agrees and you can even decide how much of a location they see.

You may want your parents to only see the city you're in, but you may want your best friend to see the actual street address.  You can even hide a location, if you're going someplace private.

Sharing locations can be fun and social, but there's also a safety feature. What if you got kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a car?  Using the technology, your friends could track your every movement on your cell phone, notify authorities and possibly save your life.

It could also be used in cases of auto accidents where perhaps a driver could be injured and unable to get help.

Latitude uses GPS satellites, cell tower triangulation or WIFI location technology depending on your area and device.

Not all phones work with Latitude since it's only been out a few weeks.

Some people complain the program can miss a person's location by blocks, even a few miles, especially where GPS isn't available, which is something to keep in mind for emergency situations.