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Smartphone app meant to warn Australians of fire risk comes under fire

Dec. 31, 2013 at 4:56 PM   |   Comments

MELBOURNE, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Some residents of Australia's Victoria state say a government smartphone app meant to warn of fire danger has either failed to work or created false alarms.

The Victorian government has had to defend the smartphone app, created at a cost of $3 million, after a number of users complained it failed to operate properly during a recent period of sweltering temperatures and high fire danger levels, the Guardian Australia reported Monday.

The FireReady app, intended to send more than 2.4 million bushfire warning messages a minute to 1 million users, first experienced problems in November, when it sent alerts to thousands of Victorians despite the absence of any fire threats.

State officials said the recent issues were down to people using an old version of the app, which was updated on December 16.

"The old app was decommissioned on 23 December but if you haven't updated it, with the push notifications you should be getting, you can still go into the app and it will appear to be working OK," a spokesman for Victoria's fire commissioner said. "We are promoting the new app heavily so people are aware of this change."

However, several users have complained the new version is not working either.

"I live and work in a high fire risk area and had the old app working perfectly on my Android Galaxy S," on user posted on an Android forum.

"The new app will not even open for me. I keep getting the 'registration failed' message when I try to open it. I have followed all the tutorials and nothing has helped," the user posted.

"Sometimes this app was my only available emergency information and now I am left with nothing!"

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