In a crisis, the difference between life and death is often having knowledgeable people on the scene with quick access to accurate information. With smartphone penetration in the U.S. up to 56 percent, mobile technology is an increasingly effective pathway to these facts. Mobile applications are now making it easier to find and share essential information during emergencies.
Leverage existing behavior to increase safety
Launched in 2012 as a way to alert athletes during the London Olympics, In Case of Crisis distributes step-by-step instructions to people in a particular building, campus or event regarding what to do in an emergency. These guidelines cover scenarios ranging from bomb scares to pandemic outbreaks, benefiting diverse groups who are not well-versed in situational emergency procedures.
Schools are increasingly a target for active shooter incidents. Since students and educators on school campuses frequently use smartphones and tablets to stay connected, rapid digital delivery of procedural information can prove a cost-effective way to help bystanders move to safety.
"Knowing that people typically keep mobile devices within an arm's reach, this expanded platform support aligns with our mission to help institutions empower their students, faculty and staff to help with the right emergency procedures and resources in their moments of need," said Christopher Britton, general manager of Irving Burton Associates, in a press release.
A number of colleges publish profiles through the app. Students at these schools can access information catered to a specific emergency on their campus, receiving customized updates and building diagrams when needed.
Most people are unprepared for crisis
Like In Case of Crisis, EmergencyLink manages information for use during an emergency. Should a crisis arise, this smartphone app allows members to distribute vital personal data to family and authorities. The software secures health insurance data and contact information to share when the data owner is incapacitated.
According to a 2012 report from EmergencyLink, 89 percent of Americans don't have emergency contact information in wallets or phones. First responders are trained to check these objects for fast facts, and when not located, the lack of key information could impede medical care down the line. The 24-hour response service allows first responders to call the network and retrieve details that will help care for a victim.
Instant information can save lives
The motivation for both smartphone apps is a desire to make important information accessible at a moment's notice. Even a few seconds are significant in a crisis, so the ability to pull up proper protocols or conduct safe medical treatments is critical.
"During an emergency situation, most people tend to panic and can put themselves at risk of further harm if they don't have a clear plan in mind or are instructed on what to do," Anthony Bradley, the director of emergency preparedness at Miami Dade College, told CIO. "This gives them the piece of mind and keeps them informed of what to expect next."
Anyone downloading smartphone applications like In Case of Crisis and EmergencyLink will need to invest time to update personal data and learn how to employ the software effectively before it will prove reliable in an emergency situation. When used correctly, however, these innovations could contribute lifesaving support to first responders.
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