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Panic Buttons vs. Phone Apps

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8/30/21—It’s easier than ever to find products and services to improve health and safety. With the world at our fingertips, emergency alert phone apps can be quickly downloaded, sometimes for no or low cost. There are a few questions to keep in mind when looking into panic button-type phone apps.

A scroll through phone app reviews will highlight the vast range of performance variability they can provide. While some reviews look promising, others report constant technical issues. Comments range in topic, including covering buggy programs consistently crashing, users’ inability to complete initial setup or update firmware to regain use of the app, some claim emergency alerts were not received or email alerts ended up in junk email. While a seemingly convenient panic button app could be rapidly obtained, when reliability is in question, that convenience is meaningless. With user difficulties in setting up and maintaining the phone app while not under threat, the ability of users to successfully utilize an emergency app amidst the stress of an actual incident is questionable.

Many phone apps vary in feature and function, with some necessitating unlocking the phone, navigating to and within the panic button app, and then speaking to dispatchers directly. In the event of an actual emergency, many lack the presence of mind to do these things in the most efficient manner possible, due to their fight-or-flight response. Substitute teachers or new workers may even hesitate, unable to recall addresses or direct first responders to their specific location on unfamiliar campuses.

On an individual basis, the variables involved with a cell phone app may be negated in some cases, but for use within an organization, all the possible issues become magnified quickly. For apps that rely on a GPS signal, additional problems can occur due to the excessive battery loss associated with continual GPS usage. Between the possibility of staff members’ phones shutting off during the day, and the other issues at hand, the safety net these systems can provide starts showing gaping vulnerabilities.

Without a proactive team of knowledgeable developers and staff, the value of the phone app can be lower than hoped. Several reviewers reported being unable to contact app makers when things don’t go as planned, and only receiving an email back much later. Not only does this bring into question how professional the individuals behind the phone app may be, but it also should illicit another question: Who has access to my data?

When downloading panic button apps onto work or personal cell phones, certain permissions and settings enable location and other data, necessary for the app to function. Locations can be tracked, proximity and duration of proximity to other users, and many other details can be logged for utilization. Who sees this data, and what are their policies regarding its storage, use and security? Will this information be sold to offset app development and maintenance costs? Without answers to these questions, the level of privacy given to those involved is difficult to ascertain.

A thoughtfully designed emergency management device can cover all these bases, improving the outcome of emergencies by enabling faster responses, without intrusive apps downloaded on someone’s cellphone. VOS Systems creates cutting-edge IoT devices, developed and supported in the U.S.A., to increase safety while protecting personal privacy. With military grade security and anonymized data, your team can feel confident using the AlertTrace Emergency Management system.

This easy to use and highly accurate solution is rapidly scalable and provides coverage across your entire campus. And with no expensive infrastructure required, the plug-and-play system from AlertTrace is the quick and reliable tool to help keep schools and businesses safe. Our dedicated support team is here to help, so contact us today to learn more about improving safety within your organization.