Danish big brother app can follow its citizens everywhere

After a natural disaster or faced with sudden conflict, countries around the world often struggle to find out just how many of their citizens are in harm’s way.

The Danish flag.

The Danish flag. Image by Jacob Bøtter / CC BY 2.0

A new app, launched by the Foreign Ministry of Denmark, is hoping to help ease the doubt by helping Danes stay connected to their overseas embassies no matter where they are in the world.

The app – available under UM Rejseklar (Travel Ready) at Google Play, the App Store and elsewhere – offers the type of travel advice that departments of foreign affairs would typically make available to citizens.

Then on arrival in a country, if trouble is brewing, it offers services to help find the nearest Danish Embassy or Consulate for assistance.

For people who take the trouble to register their stay abroad, push messages can be sent if specific crisis situations unfold after they have left home.

That could be particularly useful if say there was a developing terrorist threat or for instance could have been used to advise caution immediately after the controversy over publication of religious cartoons in Danish media.

‘The vast majority of trips abroad [are] carried out without problems, but sometimes things go wrong,’ a guide to the app says.

‘Each year, the Foreign Ministry’s Consular [helps] thousands of distressed Danes and foreigners with permanent residence in Denmark who encounter problems during their travel abroad.’

They said the cases they deal with give insights into what is likely to crop up in specific countries: be it minor issues like pickpocketing, theft from hotel rooms, certain types of illness or something much more serious.

‘[We will] contact you via the app [in the event of] natural disasters, acts of terrorism or armed conflict in the country you are in,’ they say.

If location services are enabled on a phone, it will offer direct tips on how to get or contact the embassy or consulate in the event of an emergency.

Released in mid-September, its launch and success is likely to be watched closely by other countries around the world as they look to keep their citizens up to date while on their travels.

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