36 questions to select the best emergency response app

There are quite some suppliers that offer an alarm app. The applications of the alarm app are many times the emergency response teams, but also lone workers, evacuations, it alerting, panic alarms, etc.

The most important task of an emergency response app is to send an emergency notification to an emergency officer. Some emergency alarm apps also offer attendance registration, walkie-talkie function, crisis management logging, lone worker solutions in the app, etc.

MultiBel offers two different emergency notification apps for emergency response teams. The emergency response apps are often used as a replacement for a pager and or walkie-talkie.

How to select the best emergency response app for your company? Which elements do we (at MultiBel) often see in the statement of requirement?

Emergency response app overview

Marieka Baars is an independent Health and Safety consultant in the Netherlands and she published (in 2018) an emergency response app overview with the suppliers of the alarm apps, the “BHV app overzicht” (all information is in Dutch). We like to refer you to the emergency response app overview. But, be aware: the information is not checked by her and is not always up-to-date. Suppliers of an emergency response alarm app are able to update the information according to their views and development, but questions are whether this is always done.

In order to really be able to compare the emergency response app it is advisable to contact the suppliers and to request a demo. We always think making a comparison with different suppliers is the best way to make a decision.

When comparing the suppliers you can make use of the following questions and points of attention in order to find differences.

Emergency response app

General questions regarding the alarm app

  1. Is the purchase of hardware desirable or necessary? Or does everything go through the smartphone app?
  2. Can the emergency response app break through the silence mode in Android and iOS?
  3. Is it possible to enter scenarios in advance? Who belongs to which calamity? Can you scale up / escalate?
  4. Can a distinction be made in locations, functions, privileges of persons?
  5. How is the data management arranged? Can data management be linked to existing systems or is it only possible to load data with files? Are users allowed to update data themselves?

Redundancy of alarm app

  1. What methods are used to deliver the emergency notification? On a push notification in the emergency response app or is it possible to make use of telephone lines (mobile or fixed), email, SMS? Is it possible to activate a pager or other systems?
  2. Is there, besides recording of alarm notification messages, also a possibility to use text-to-speech?

User friendliness of the emergency response app

Simplicity of use is of great importance in the event of a calamity, because no time should be lost. Users must have confidence that they are able to use the system. An emergency response app that works intuitively saves a lot of time and produces less stress than a complex system.

  1. Is it possible to receive a demo of the emergency response system?
    • with previously defined scenario’s
    • without previously defined scenario’s
  2. How many steps does drawing up and sending an alarm message consist of?
  3. Is the system simple/clear enough to send an alert with minimal training?

Time critical elements

Make sure that the supplier is able to send a large number of alarm messages regardless of the time of day.

  1. What is the capacity or the number of people that can be alerted simultaneously or within 30 seconds? Note, not only the maximum number of people you can enter, but also how fast the provider of the emergency notifcation app reaches those people. It is not uncommon to ask for proof / experience figures from the provider. And do those figures only apply to the app or also to telephony and SMS?
  2. Can several customers simultaneously send large alarm orders without this having a (major) influence on the speed? Can experience figures be submitted?
  3. Is there a real time overview of the responses of the alerted persons? Is it possible to send instructions to everyone who has responded?

Emergency response system technology

  1. How can an alarm be initiated? Only via the emergency response app or also via telephone lines, online, emergency buttons, fire alarm panel, etc.? In addition to text and audio, can the system also share photo and video with others?
  2. Is the alarm app available in Android, iOS and possibly Windows?
  3. How is the battery consumption of the Emergency response app?

Reliability of the alarm app

  1. What is the guaranteed system availability (up-time) of the alarm app? Is there an SLA at all?
  2. Are different data centers that are geographically separated and redundant??
  3. What is the back-up policy?

Privacy of the emergency response app

  1. How does the provider of the emergency response app deal with personal data and the GDPR? Is there an ISO27001 certification? There are providers of an emergency response system with servers in the US, and put bluntly this means that your personal data ends up across the pond. Is that desirable? More information on this topical topic can be found here (in Dutch).

Extra emergency response app functionalies

  1. Is the emergency response app also an attendance app? If so, does the presence app only work with geofencing or also via WiFi, Bluetooth transmitters, schedules, etc.? Does the presence app also warn when it is understaffed?
  2. In addition to emergency notification, is there also the possibility to communicate? For example via a push-to-talk/ walkie-talkie function and/or a conference?
  3. Some emergency response apps can do more than just sending emergency notifications? What are the extras offered? Think of a certified evacuation system, crisis logging, task cards, on call services, lone worker systems etc.

Customer Service

  1. Is the helpdesk reachable 24/7 and are they and able to provide immediate assistance?
  2. Is and will there be an account manager available for the customer?

Implementation of the emergency response app

A clear point of contact with a good project planning is important for the success of the implementation.

  1. Who is the point of contact for the implementation of the alarm app?
  2. Blijft de accountmanager betrokken bij de implementatie?
  3. What is the duration of the implementation? How long does it take for the alarm app to be ready for use?
  4. Is there a projectplan/ timeline available for the implementation
  5. What is expected of your project team during implementation?
  6. Is training necessary? Is training material available? How does training take place (on location, online, webcast, etc)?

References

  1. Which customers use the service and are they satisfied? What is the average review score?
  2. Can references be contacted?

Contract

  1. What is the duration of the contract, the flexibility in case of cancellation, etc.
  2. Are updates free of charge?
  3. Is a (free) demo of the emergency notification app available? Is the demo version tailored to your own organization? Can you also test the product for a period (free of charge) before you proceed to the full purchase?

Supplier

An emergency response app is a way to improve company safety in the organization because help can be called up quickly. The security of the data, but also the stability of the organization is important. Convince yourself of the experience, track record, financial stability, organizational ability and vision for the future.

Emergency response app to instruct

These are company emergency response apps with the aim of training/ educating the emergency response officers or to guide the emergency response officers in the performance of their task. There are free emergency response apps and paid variants. Such apps are often offered by companies specialized in emergency response training.

One reason for using such an app is to provide emergency response officers with a method to gain or refresh knowledge. This BHV app is an addition to or a replacement for a course book. It is also a tool that emergency response officers can always have at hand to quickly look up something in the event of an incident.

Some apps provide the employer with reports on the test results of the employees. This can be useful to estimate the relevance of a (repetitive) training.

Contact us

Want to learn more about our emergency response app that is used to alert, inform and communicate?