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George Mason U Adopts App Edition of Emergency Response Instructions
- By Dian Schaffhauser
George Mason University is providing a free app to its campus community intended to help users cope effectively in emergency situations. The Virginia university's Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Office teamed up with Virginia-based Irving Burton Associates to customize a version of In Case of Crisis, that delivers specific emergency procedures and instructions via an online portal to users' Apple and Google Android mobile devices. Most of the information is saved within the app so that it's available even if data or cellular service is down.
The content included in the app is already available online and in an emergency preparation flipbook created by EHS, but the office said it considers the latest edition more concise and accessible. The user is presented with icons that can be selected for next-steps, emergency contact phone numbers, evacuation routes, routes to local hospitals, an audio alarm, and a flashlight. As plans evolve, the content can be updated by university representatives.
The emergency events that the app covers encompass:
- Bomb threat;
- Missing person;
- Power outage;
- Regional emergency;
- Severe weather; and
"Like any high-growth institution with a diverse student population dispersed among multiple major campuses, we required a cohesive way to deliver emergency information into the hands of every person on campus,” said David Farris, director of emergency management and fire safety. The new app, he added, will allow George Mason "to proactively address both major and minor emergencies and empower students, faculty, and staff to take charge of their situations."
Farris emphasized that the app wasn't a replacement for the university's emergency notification system, MasonAlert. However, the new app does include a menu that allows users to connect to MasonAlert in order to modify account settings and update contact details.
According to the school, more improvements may come, among them the ability to communicate emergency location to campus police and creating plans specific to faculty or students studying abroad.
A version of the app is also in use by Northwest Missouri State University.
Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.