Panic Button Apps are Important Safety Tools, but Why Not Offer More?

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Panic Button App Pros and Cons

When it comes to keeping people safe, organizations are looking for simple, reliable solutions like mobile panic button apps to let the right stakeholders know that an issue is taking place. On the surface, these types of solutions make a lot of sense for organizations looking to enhance their safety strategies. Most people have mobile devices, apps can often be activated from anywhere with Wi-Fi or a cellular connection; and in many cases, they are a cost-effective way to meet safety requirements.

But the cheapest, fastest way to check a box isn’t always the best, especially when people’s safety is on the line. This isn’t to say panic button apps aren’t useful. They can be very effective under the right circumstances, but relying on them as the sole means of sending an alert can be shortsighted and even dangerous. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll start to see the drawbacks and limitations of relying on panic button apps as the sole method for alerting people about an issue. In this blog post, we’ll outline what some of those limitations are and how panic button apps can fold into a more comprehensive and effective alerting strategy.

App Adoption vs. Accessible Options

While most people have cell phones, it isn’t always easy to convince people to add a new app to their devices. If people don’t download the app and your organization has no other options for them to request help, they could be susceptible to harm. Organizations trying to fulfill their duty of care then may need to invest additional time and resources simply getting people to add the app, training them how to use it appropriately, and tracking who has and hasn’t added it to their device. This is time that could take away from completing other critical safety projects.

The Alternative:
Having accessible panic buttons that are easy to operate can help bridge the gap to provide additional alerting options that don’t rely on having a specific app. Wearable and mounted devices and panic buttons configured on desk phones can be placed throughout buildings to ensure maximum coverage.

Multi-touch vs. One-touch Alerting

Consider this scenario: Someone feels threatened or sees an incident occur. They take out their phone, unlock it, find the panic button app, open it, and then activate the panic button.

That multi-step process can waste precious seconds and put people at risk. It assumes someone has their phone with them, that they’re already logged into the app, and the battery on their device is charged. When someone leaves their phone at their desk, or the battery dies, the app becomes useless.

The Alternative:
In a moment of crisis, people don’t always think clearly. They might not even remember that they have a panic button app on their phone. Mounted panic buttons and panic buttons configured on desk phones offer clearly visible, single-touch options to instantly initiate alerts on hardwired devices that do not rely on batteries. Keyboard shortcuts configured on desktop computers can also offer a more immediate method of activating alerts, and while wearable devices may require multiple touches to confirm an event is taking place, there’s nothing to unlock, find or log into.

Passive vs. Intrusive Alerting

Organizations will want to consider how an alert from a panic button app is delivered to those who can provide assistance. Many use SMS text messages, email, or push notifications, but these types of messages are easy to ignore. Phones could be placed on silent mode and email can be cluttered or not set up for notifications. When someone needs help, they can’t afford to wait; your organization can’t afford for that message to go unnoticed.

The Alternative:
Look for panic buttons that can deliver alerts as intrusive text, audio, and visual alerts. Being able to have an alert play as audio via an overhead speaker, pop-up over the screen of a desktop or digital signage, and activate flashing lights can be a much more effective way to interrupt ongoing activities, grab people’s attention, and spur people to respond quickly.

Notifying vs. Managing

Someone activates the panic button app. Now what? In many cases, the answer is, it’s up to you to figure out how to help that person. The app’s job is simply to let you know there is a problem and often does not provide tools to help facilitate the next steps or bring the event to a quick resolution. That can mean you need to pivot from one tool to another, or worse, rely on plans stored in binders to figure out what to do next, none of which leads to an efficient or effective response.

The Alternative:
Solutions that offer a complete incident management toolset can give organizations more value by streamlining their emergency response in a single virtual tool. Every step can be mapped out, and virtual resources can be made available so everyone knows what to do when an incident occurs.

Short vs. Long-term Cost Effectiveness

Let’s talk about cost. As we mentioned, panic button apps can be cost-effective for many organizations looking to bolster their safety measures. However, many organizations don’t consider the long-term effects of short-term savings. If people don’t adopt the app, if the app can’t alert the right people, an organization starts to experience some of the limitations we’ve pointed out that may lead them to seek additional tools to help meet their needs. That initial cost savings then starts to diminish, and when budgets are tight, no one wants to ask for more because the first investment wasn’t adequate.

The Alternative:
Certain mass notification systems offer multiple panic button options in addition to a mobile app, including integrations with technology your organization may already own, such as mounted and wearable devices, desktop computers, and desk phones. This adds value to existing technology investments and gives you flexibility for the future should your needs change.

Flexible Panic Button Options with InformaCast

Whether you’re a school, hospital, or business, no organization wants to be forced into a single way of doing things. Safety situations are dynamic and require solutions that offer flexibility as circumstances change. Having a holistic notification system can provide a comprehensive solution to your organization’s safety strategy rather than just addressing individual concerns. InformaCast from Singlewire Software offers the flexible panic button options you need to cover your buildings and keep your people safe. It offers integrations with leading mounted and wearable panic button providers, the ability to configure panic buttons on desk phones and desktop computers and a mobile app. Notifications can be sent as intrusive text, audio, and visual messages to other desk phones and mobile devices, desktop computers, digital signage, and overhead speakers. InformaCast also includes incident management capabilities, so from the moment a panic button is activated, your organization has the tools it needs to respond as quickly as possible.

Learn more about the panic button options available in the InformaCast Personal Duress Package to see how your organizations can enhance safety with flexible alerting options.