Survey Results Indicate Americans Use Mobile Apps in Emergencies
A survey conducted by the American Red Cross in June 2012 reveals that mobile apps for emergency purposes are increasing in popularity. The survey results indicate that approximately 20% of Americans use mobile apps to get information about an emergency situation like a hurricane or tornado. Of course, the major communication channels like TV news, local radio stations, and online news are still the most popular sources of information. When the current survey results are compared with those from 2011, however, the reliance on these traditional communication channels have decreased by about 10% in each category while mobile apps usage for emergency purposes has remained constant at 20% and may very well increase in the near future.
There are several Red Cross mobile apps available which include the First Aid, Shelter Finder, Hurricane, Tornado, Earthquake, and Wildfire Apps. According to the survey, the most popular type of emergency app is weather forecasting, with more than 80% of mobile users preferring this feature. Fortunately, location-based weather alerts are a feature of several of the Red Cross mobile apps. Another important feature of the Hurricane, Tornado, Earthquake, and Wildfire Apps is the one-touch, “I’m safe” messaging. With the touch of a button, users can notify their family and friends that they are safe via social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. This is a worthwhile feature since 76% of the social media users that were surveyed said that if they saw emergency information posted on a social media site their first action would be to contact friends and family to see if they were safe.
Mobile apps can provide a large amount of essential information during an emergency. In addition to providing information and tools for survival, the Red Cross staff also believes the emergency mobile apps provide emotional support in a very stressful situation by allowing the user to stay connected with others during an emergency. Though the Red Cross still encourages individuals to first dial 9-1-1 in an emergency, the mobile apps now play a role in preparing for and surviving an emergency.