There are many reasons we use technology in disasters. One of the biggest reasons is to find emergency information and instructions on what to do before, during and after the disaster. For instance, have you ever had to Google ‘How to prepare for this hurricane,’ ‘What do I do in a wildfire?’, or ‘How do I recover from a car accident?’.
If you’ve ever had to scroll for answers in an emergency, you’ll know that it’s not just a quick search. The millions of results can get overwhelming (even for hazard experts) and having to filter through ads is annoying. Government and official websites can mean walls of text that are hard to mentally absorb. Finding relevant emergency information for your unique needs takes extra time. Time that you may not have.
So where do we turn?
One big barrier here: if people do not have the app already downloaded onto their phone, they aren’t likely to immediately download it during an emergency. As a default, people turn to what they can find on the web - if they have access to electricity and the internet, of course.
This is why we are alerting tech creators to this important issue: it is critical to have both a mobile app and a web app version of your tool to serve the entire community.
The breakdown of why we need to build both:
The mobile app offers additional benefits, and a web app covers the gaps left over.
While you will always need the internet to download a mobile app, once you have the app, you no longer need the internet for the information. (Unless, of course, you need to update the app to a newer version.) In our case, with the HazAdapt mobile app, you can access emergency information in any offline situation.
While the mobile app does offer the convenience of being readily available on your phone, it may be limited to only a few countries' app stores.
Web apps can have a global reach on the internet, meaning people can still access your valuable services, even if they have not downloaded the app or rely on a different device like a computer or tablet. Together, the app and web app help connect more people and devices than just an app alone. HazAdapt does this because it helps serve more people in the community.
Having both an app and a web app is the ideal solution for local emergency authorities who send emergency texts and want to quickly attach more resilience resources for their community, who may or may not have the app, and may or may not have the internet.
⛑ The Bottom Line for Emergency Managers: When you are searching for tools that can serve your community, it’s important to choose the option as inclusive to as many community members as possible. If your emergency communication system only has an app for your public users, it could be a potential barrier for many in your community.
💻 The Bottom Line for Tech Creators: Don’t start popping the champagne until you’ve created both the mobile app and the web app version of your technology.
If you’ve committed to serving as many people as possible, inclusively, mobile and web versions of your app are a must.
HazAdapt commits to this by offering the mobile and tablet-friendly app along with a web app version of HazAdapt that can be opened on a browser. Because of this, emergency managers can confidently share HazAdapt’s Hazard Guide with their community without having to try to get their community members to download an app.