The second most important thing in your pocket?!

Earlier this year I wrote a blog about the (surprising) importance of maintaining at least one reliable email address to ensure the most secure parts of your digital (and real world) life stay accessible. I had a further uncomfortable reminder this week of just how important another part of your digital life can be – when I (temporary) lost my smartphone!

I should probably set the scene. If you live in the UK you will know what this week was an unusually hot one by local standards. Temperatures soared well into the 30s, which is pretty hot for this part of the world, even in summer. My car read the outside temperature as 34 degrees Celsius at one point this week and I have no doubt that was correct!

So, on this particular day I was heading to my local station to take a train to London to attend the IFSEC International show at the ExCeL exhibition centre. Knowing it would be hot, but wanting to be presentable, I chose the only real option of outfit (for a man) in these circumstances, tailored trousers and shirt without the usual jacket. 

Before you ask what this has to do with anything, I should point out the important factor here is pockets, or lack of them! With just a rucksack to store all my important items I suddenly felt an affinity with ladies who are often forced to carry a bag for all their important items (or face stuffing their phone into the limited pockets of skinny jeans!)  As a man, it’s easy to take storage upon your person for granted.

Long-story-short, I managed to drop my phone at a busy station having hastily stuffed it into a shallow trouser pocket to collect my ticket. It turns out I had probably only been separated from it for about a minute or so, but I had that sinking feeling when I did the obligatory ‘self-frisk’ looking for it. Having checked my bag (just in case) the reality sunk in – I had mislaid one of the most important items I carry around.

Just think what your smartphone means to you. It’s obviously a telephone, but it’s also the primary access many of us have to our online world. In my case that specifically meant access to social media, business emails, diary, train times, Tube map and even Google maps if you end up having to navigate an area you don’t know.

Having searched around me, gone back to my car to check I hadn’t inadvertently left it there and asked at the ticket office if a phone had been handed in, I was somewhat resigned to the hassle (and expense) of having to order a replacement smartphone (and Sim card too of course!) – not to mention the increased difficulty of conducting my day successfully with limited communications.

In the end, my saving grace was actually my tablet! Having connected to the station’s Wi-Fi (because your options are limited without your smartphone to tether!) I was able to use the Google ‘find my phone’ command and establish where it was. As it turned out, it was in the Customer Service department only a few feet behind me, having been handed in by a (very honest) member of the public. Even the gentleman who handed it back to me was impressed as I showed him the map on my tablet! It’s a really useful service which really proved to be invaluable to me that day.

Going back to my blog title, why do I think your smartphone is only the second most important thing in your pocket? Well, to me losing your wallet would be worse as most things are exceedingly difficult without a method of payment (although many banks now offer contingency plans to deal with this at their cash machines, thankfully!) This would be especially difficult if you are effectively stranded away from home.

But with the likes of Apple and Android pay on smart devices, for many people their phone is becoming their everyday payment method as well and this can only increase in future (although what would happen when your battery goes dead and you didn’t have an alternative I wonder?!) 

It’s also a reminder of the importance of securing your smartphone access when you’re not using it – otherwise you are pretty much handing your digital identify over to an unknown person if it gets lost or stolen! It also reminds me to use my bag to securely store my phone or wear something with more secure pockets in future!

Author: Simon Hewitt, Chief PR Ltd