Australian government researchers now are using Twitter to alert swimmers when sharks are near the beach. SiliconBeat reports that 338 sharks off the coast of Western Australia have been tagged with acoustic transmitters. These transmitters cause a government Twitter account to automatically alert swimmers whenever a tagged shark is near the beach, the update including the species and size of the shark. Six people have died in shark attacks in the past two years near Western Australia beaches.
Before I get to my thoughts on this, even one death is too many. I sincerely hope these measures help reduce the number of deaths by shark attacks. That being said, three deaths per year is minuscule in the grand scheme. An average of 4.2 fatal shark attacks occur annually worldwide, compared to an average of ten people drowning daily without the assistance of a shark. I won’t even get into all the other obvious death threats that kill millions annually, but my point is something I hope we all know – the “threat” of shark attacks is sensationalized, and ultimately not a detriment to human life.
One might ask then: Why are Australian government researchers spending valuable resources on the overblown war on sharks? If we can come up with an innovative solution to such a minor threat, who says the same resources can’t go toward finding an innovative solution to an actual threat to our safety? Personally I think why the money’s going toward X and not Y has a lot to do with perceptions. People fear shark attacks, whether they should or not. This blogger certainly hopes that irrational fear was more the driver behind these measures, and not tourism concerns, but good intentions will be assumed for the moment.
I simply ask my fellow entrepreneurs and innovators everywhere to ask more questions as we search for the next great problem to solve: Are you sure it’s a great problem? Are you pouring your time and talents into something truly worthwhile, something that’s really going to make life better for people? Have you done the research to determine if you’ve found a real issue in society that isn’t shrouded by conventional wisdom?
Or are you making sharks tweet?