The Sooner, The Better
As smartphones have become ubiquitous, so has the need for mobile security apps
- By Richard Aldrich
- Jun 18, 2020
Does an organization need to
invest in a safety app? The
short answer is yes, the sooner
the better. For the longer
answer we must consider the technological,
behavioral, and legal trends.
Looking back 20 years ago, land lines
were still the most popular mode of communication.
Popular also were beepers,
snail mail and sending faxes. That all
changed with the advent of an affordable
smartphone is 2007. Since then, we have
seen the smartphone become the focal
point of people’s lives; their gateway.
This gateway is responsible for every
aspect of a person’s life today, communication,
work, entertainment, time management,
and while not at the forefront of
people’s minds, safety. Also since 2007, we
have seen a shift in behavior when interacting,
moving from making calls to sending
text messages or some type of message via
one of the various social media platforms.
Even with this behavioral shift, people
are still calling 911, now just from their
mobile phone. In fact, 80 percent of calls
to 911 are made from mobile phones. Even
with the majority of calls coming from
smartphones, the technology being used
to receive the calls (in the majority of 911
call centers) is actually less compatible with
smartphones than they are with land lines.
Essentially, in a world where your refrigerator
can tell you it was left open, or your car
can drive you, you will have better results calling
911 from a landline than a mobile phone.
So the scenario now is you have been
trained to use your phone to communicate via
text and social media. You are in need of 911
assistance, your heart is beating a little faster,
mind racing and you have to try to remember
to use a landline instead of the phone that is
in your pocket. After all of this, you are on the
phone with 911 and still have to verbally relay
all information to 911. How is this the scene
in today’s advanced technological age?
911 call centers are also facing a second
issue, limited resources. While the exact
statistics vary from district to district, on
average between 50 to 90 percent of calls
911 receives are for nonemergency issues.
Issues range from simple concerns to
prank calls, all of which need to be prioritized
by 911 for response. While the prank
calls are an entirely separate issue, simple
concerns have the potential to be resolved
by administrators and security guards, not to
mention they are also assigned the lowest priority
by 911 resulting in slow response times.
A scenario in which a person reports
issues to campus safety at a school, or a
landlord at a residential property, or the
security department at a business, or even
a security guard at any type of venue
would alleviate a lot of stress on 911.
Nonemergency issues being handled locally,
and true emergencies being escalated to
911 is a very real alternative that can be implemented
today by investing in a safety app.
Safety apps are able to create an environment
that maximizes the capabilities of
a person’s most frequently used tool, their
smartphone. A person can simply send
a text message, photo, or video of the issue
to the responsible party of the facility.
This made even easier by the process of using
the app as the recipient is already programmed.
In many ways this is easier than
having to dial 911. In addition to the message,
the recipient also receives useful details
like date, time, and most importantly
GPS. Most safety apps also come with an
ability to share these critical details with
911 when escalated from local authorities.
A scenario with an investment in a safety
app results in a person using their mobile
phone in the most familiar way (camera and
text) while also increasing the amount of information
transferred during an emergency.
This results in improved response from 911,
and equally important, piece of mind.
One last piece to consider when evaluating
an investment into a safety app solution,
is the current legal climate. We live
in a time when legally speaking there is
always someone accountable, and they are
being held accountable through lawsuits.
Duty of care is a massively popular term
today that has come about with the increase
of lawsuits involving physical harm.
Ultimately, duty of care is the legal obligation
that actions were taken to mitigate the
possibility of harm. This is the first barrier
for any lawsuit that claims negligence. Implementing
a safety app gives a person a tool that
mitigates the risk of physical harm, ultimately
making it much harder to prove negligence.
Whatever your priorities might be,
wanting to help 911 better serve you and
your community, giving people a tool that
works in a way that is most familiar, piece
of mind, or simply shielding yourself from
liability, it is clear that implementing a
safety app is a necessity today.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of Security Today.
Richard Aldrich is the cofounder of Incident Co.