• A sales assistant walks inside a China Mobile store in China.

A sales assistant walks inside a China Mobile store in China. (Photo : Reuters)

While an increasing number of recommendations against smartphone dependence are published on the Internet, the mobile phone users of Chinese city Shanghai may find that the popular uptake of handset technology could save their lives one day.

A representative from one of Shanghai's government authorities explained to the local media that bulk text-message alerts will be sent throughout Shanghai's metropolitan area to inform mobile users of the location and details of any accident-prone zones in the city.

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According to Shao Zhiqing, vice director of the Shanghai Municipal Economy and Information Technology Development Commission, the innovative high-tech tracking system monitors crowds through their mobile handsets.

One of the key functions of the new system will be the control of the immense crowds that pass through Shanghai's Metro system on a daily basis.

Shao told reporters: "The system will be able to track the number of people within a given area, as long as they have a phone."

Shao promoted the initiative by asserting that "new technologies can help prevent accidents," and said that the tracking system will be trialled next month in Shanghai's subway stations.

The senior official also disclosed that China's three foremost telecommunications companies--China Mobile Ltd., China Unicom and China Telecom Ltd.--will collaborate with a fourth, as-yet unidentified company to develop the monitoring technology.

In the meantime, expert staff from the three mobile brands will work on how the system will identify those individuals who are carrying multiple handsets.

The announcement occurred during a less profitable period for China's major mobile carriers, as Bloomberg reported a "retreat," after reports of last year's earnings "fell short." Unicom dipped by the greatest amount in 16 months.