Mar 12th, 2011

The earthquake off the coast of Japan has rocked the country’s foundation and the resulting blackouts, fires and tsunami have devastated citizens. While the lives taken by the natural disaster are the most precious of losses, many others face horrific living conditions evidenced by a total collapse of infrastructure. For the families devastated by this event, it isn’t yet about repairing their broken lives but living amongst devastation.

Take a look at some of the disaster’s raw footage, for example the towering Tsunami in the distance as it crashes onto the countryside, with the camera cutting out just before relentlessly pounding moving vehicles trying to escape the calamity:

Or fires caused by the earthquake seen below:

At the ground level, brave service people are undergoing rescue missions and numerous countries have offered their support through man power, finances, and other resources. But still, with a disaster of this magnitude, hundreds of thousands of people are trying to help themselves in one way or another. While it’s a very small matter relatively speaking, the power of Android has played at least some role in assisting citizens trying to deal with their problems.

Nikolay Ananiev, developer of Tiny Flashlight + LED which has been downloaded 2.5+ million times, contacted us to share a startling statistic. In a matter of hours, 50,000+ Android users in Japan downloaded his app following the disaster. I assume that as the earthquake shook infrastructure, the power went out, and people were left in the pitch black trying to escape. They went to Android Market, downloaded a flashlight app, and used it to find an escape route. I’m sure not all were in danger – it’s likely that others in more safe areas simply lost power but were searching for Android Market’s assistance to navigate the dark.

Thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this horrible crisis along with their family and friends. While we all love downloads like Angry Birds and Evernote, it’s great to see how technology can be used to make the world a better place. Sure… it’s just a simple flashlight app, but to the 50,000+ who downloaded in that time period I’m sure they’d say it was much more than just a simple flashlight app.

What other Android applications could have helped in a time like this? Are there applications you would suggest downloading in advance just in case a natural disaster occurs?