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Emergency Management Increasingly Dependent on Mobile Use

The use of mobile devices for all activities computing-related has also driven an evolution in emergency management in education. According to the Tomi Ahonen Almanac, the average user checks his or her mobile phone 150 times per day. That puts the smart device on the front lines of communication for crisis situations. In Case of Crisis, a company with a mobile app that lets organizations maintain and distribute role-based emergency information in a mobile format, has identified four trends worth noting for the coming year.

Two-way communication is on the rise. Increasingly, said Chris Britton, general manager of Irving Burton Associates, schools are putting an emphasis on getting emergency response into the "hands" of the community by allowing those closest to the situation to communicate via their phones with first responders.

Mobile apps are being integrated. Universities will "mash-up" more technologies and software tools into mobile apps in the coming year. This will include integrating home-grown and commercial services to increase the overall adoption of the app.

Specialized emergency or security devices are on the decline. As mobile devices begin to serve as the unifying vehicle for communication, specialized gear and practices such as standalone alarms and emergency blue light systems, and even 911 calls will begin to disappear.

GPS and geo-fencing technologies will come to the forefront. As more GPS manufacturers begin to offer floor-by-floor detailed interior guidance and other mobile technologies such as geo-fencing, first responders will be better able to isolate the location of certain emergencies in closer or wider proximities, depending on the situation. That locational data, said Britton, will allow participants in the emergency to have greater insight and clarity to minimize disasters and better communicate with others.

"While traditional emergency and business continuity plans are intended to help save lives, mitigate disasters, and provide other instructions for unexpected events, the reality is that they are often not actionable in the midst of a crisis or emergency situation," said Britton. "The impending paradigm shift of intelligent mobile solutions is empowering organizations and individuals to work collectively to overcome crisis situations with safety as the paramount outcome."

In Case of Crisis is currently in use by College of William & Mary, the University of Georgia, and Northwest Missouri State University, among others. The service is available to run on iOS and Android devices.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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