News from IT that isn't just for geeks

Emergency Apps: Using your Mobile Device in an Emergency

Posted on: March 13th, 2013 by

If you have a mobile phone, there are several apps today targeted at assisting you in a potential emergency. The list below contains information on emergency apps you might consider downloading, just in case.

Emergency Notifications

Before we dive into the mobile emergency app review, please remember the University of Mississippi (UM) offers a few ways to receive emergency messages and information. Associate Provost Noel Wilkin from the UM Crisis Action Team highlights the key communication strategies used to communicate emergency notifications to UM employees, students and parents.

REBALERT Text Messages: REBALERT is an emergency text message notification service available to UM employees, students and parents. University employees and students who have provided a valid cell phone number will automatically receive REBALERT text message notifications from the University. These can be received on any cellular device, even cell phones that are not smartphones.

Employees and students can verify or change their cell phone information by logging in to myOleMiss with their WebID. Within myOleMiss, students click the Student tab => My Profile => Contact Information. Employees click the Employee tab => Self-Service => Address & Communication Preferences. Follow the instructions to edit your cell phone information, if needed. Parents with a WebID may also sign up using these instructions.

App Alerts: If you have The Official Ole Miss App, iPad or iPhone edition, you can receive alerts by enabling the notifications for that app. After the app is installed, click the Settings icon, click the Notifications tab, click Ole Miss, and finally click the switch to ON. On this same screen, you can also change how the app alerts you.

@RebAlert on Twitter: The University sends out emergency information using the @RebAlert Twitter account. Simply follow @RebAlert to view these messages. If you turn on notifications for your Twitter app, these messages will appear as alerts on your smartphone.

UM Emergency Web Site: Using any smartphone, you can visit the UM Emergency web site for the latest, time stamped information about emergencies and the campus status.

UM Today Email: The University sends out emergency information using email sent from UM Today. Smartphones will allow you to receive your or email on that device.

Free Emergency Apps

AroundMe is an application that shows businesses or landmarks around your current location including banks/ATM, gas stations, hospitals, movie theaters, restaurants, and taxi services.

Code Red Mobile Alert uses your location along with the national CodeRED Emergency Notification System to provide emergency alerts near your current location.  Warnings are identified as icons on a map within the application.

Disaster Alert displays advisories, watches and warnings worldwide.  You can tap on the map icons to see more information about each alert. Disasters can include flooding, drought, earthquakes, wind, volcanic activity and storms.

Earthquake – American Red Cross, as expected, provides earthquake support and survival information.

Emergency Distress Beacon will send out a distress beacon with your current location to rescuers.   For android devices, you might look at Here I Am 2.

Flashlight turns your phone’s camera flash into a temporary flash light.   The app supports adjustments to the brightness settings.  A compass is also included on the screen.   NOTE: This application will drain your battery faster than most other applications.

ICE: Emergency Contact allows you to identify your smartphone phonebook contacts as your “In Case of Emergency” contacts.  An individual can also save information such as medications, allergies and health conditions in the app.

WebMD allows individuals to read about their health symptoms and conditions.  WebMD offers first aid suggestions including allergic reaction treatment and CPR to name a few. Through the use of your current location, you can search for nearby physicians, pharmacies and hospitals.

Additional Thoughts

If you enjoy backpacking or plan to travel to a location without consistent power, you need to consider how you will charge your mobile device.   For under $30 (as of March 2013), you can purchase a solar powered backup battery to charge your equipment.

Be safe.