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When Hamas launches a rocket, Israeli iPhones buzz

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Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

(Read caption) Rockets launched by Palestinian militants towards Israel make their way from the central Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza border, Monday. Thanks to an app thought up by an Israeli teenager, Israelis all over the country know exactly when and where each rocket from Gaza is headed.

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Adi Pito and his friend Avi Genasia were checking out the damage from the first – and so far only – fatal rocket attack of the past week when there was a deep rumble on the horizon.

There was also a buzz from Mr. Genasia’s iPhone. A rocket had been fired from Gaza.

Thanks to Color Red, a new app thought up by a 13-year-old, Israelis all over the country know exactly when and where each rocket is headed.

The geeky solution for Israel’s more than 3 million residents threatened by rocket fire isn’t the first time Israel’s high-tech prowess has been applied to its security threats. In fact, much of Israel’s innovation economy – which is considered second only to Silicon Valley – is spurred by the demands of its military and related security industries.

Perhaps adversity whets Israel’s competitive edge, as suggested by the 2009 best-seller Start-Up Nation. According to Israeli press reports, the young teenager behind Color Red is from Beersheva, one of the cities that bears the brunt of Gaza rocket fire – and thus pops up most frequently on the app.

You can choose to have all alerts sent to your phone, or just those for areas you select from a long list – all in Hebrew. The system efficiently delivers its notifications based off the government's public warning alerts.

Depending on where Israelis live, they have between 15 and 90 seconds to reach a bomb shelter once the sirens begin to wail. Lately, the sirens have been followed by a large BOOM as Israel’s Iron Dome system kicks in.

Then, if you also have the app from daily newspaper Haaretz, you see an alert pop up while sipping your latte on the Mediterranean coast: Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Tel Aviv.

Apps may not blunt the rockets, but it’s nice to know where they’re falling – and where they’re not.


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