Since 1400 years ago, Hajj has always been an Islamic ritual full of hardships, endurance, and patience. Other than this, communicating with beloved ones back home was even painful until recently when smartphones and social media changed everything. Hajj 2016 is more technology influenced than ever before.
Today, there are lesser chances for someone to get lost among millions of pilgrims who gather at one place and seek God’s blessing and will.
Just recently, we reported how a Saudi-Palestine firm created a solar-powered umbrella which comes with a small fan, flashlight, and Global Positioning System (GPS). This solar umbrella is specially designed for the pilgrims. The built-in navigation system in this device quickly shows the location of the user.
Moreover, Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has created an online system for submitting the applications for Hajj. The pilgrims are provided with a tracking device without any extra charge. The tracking bracelet or locket connects to the central dashboard enabling it to locate the position of each pilgrim.
A few years ago, cameras were not allowed into the Grand Mosque, but now, pilgrims are also walking around with arms outstretched to broadcast their Hajj live to family and friends by mobile phone via Facebook Live video service.
Technologies have given an opportunity to the pilgrims to share their conversations, photos, and video clips with their family members quickly and easily. A lot of mobile applications are available for the service of pilgrims. They can get a large variety of information regarding Hajj from these apps.
Individuals can also purchase tickets via online websites or apps. Today, the interior of the Grand Mosque is air conditioned. Giant fans with water sprays cool the exterior. Pilgrimage routes through steep mountains are now eased with escalators. There is even a train to move pilgrims from site to site.
To help pilgrims in finding the locations in the crowd, two engineers have developed a mobile application called Wussul. This app lists roads that traditional GPS does not recognise.
It will also permit for groups to find their members if they ever get lost in the crowd. This app is a tool the two engineers hope will prevent another tragedy like last year’s stampede which killed around 2,300 pilgrims during the “Stoning of the Devil” ritual of the hajj.