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Technology Could Help Inaugural Spectators Navigate Through The Masses

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
As we noted yesterday, getting around Washington D.C. during Barack Obama's inauguration will be...challenging. Closed down streets, security checkpoints, and "crush level" crowds are likely to result in serious headaches for both regular residents and the millions of folks descending on the city for the swearing in.

But while it will be nearly impossible to avoid the onslaught, the tech savvy will at least have a few tools at their disposal to help navigate the crowded streets. As CNET reports, organizers are relying on tools like text messaging, twitter, and the iPhone to help users fight their way through the masses.

Text messaging will be particularly critical because "it may be difficult to talk or send pictures from your cell phone, according to wireless companies." And visitors can sign up for "Alert DC" at the D.C. inaugural Web site if they want to be contacted by Homeland Security & Emergency Management personnel "[w]hen an incident or emergency occurs."

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The iPhone application, covered here, "provides information about metro service and parking garage locations, a Zagat guide of local restaurants, a list of free nearby Wi-Fi zones, and information about the afterparties that are sure to keep Washington abuzz all night." It also tells you how far you are from the Capitol building, a valuable service since anyone within two miles has been instructed to walk to the inauguration.

And then there's the Twitter page, which offers tidbits like "The sign up deadline to volunteer at the Inauguration is this Friday," links to updated schedules, and information about contests for those hoping to win a free trip to the event.

All this won't mitigate the challenges of attending the event, of course. But it might make the prospect of transportation challenges combined with "stand[ing] outside in cold weather in a large crowd for up to six hours" a bit easier to handle.

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