Abstract

Emergencies threaten human lives and overall societal continuity, whether or not the crises and disasters are induced by nature, such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes, or by human beings, such as accidents, terror attacks and uprisings. In such situations, not only do citizens demand information about the damage and safe behaviour, but emergency services also require high quality information to improve situational awareness. For this purpose, there are currently two kinds of apps available: General-purpose apps, such as Facebook Safety Check or Twitter Alerts, already integrate safety features. Specific crisis apps, such as KATWARN in Germany or FEMA in the US, provide information on how to behave before, during and after emergencies, and capabilities for reporting incidents or receiving disaster warnings. In this paper, we analyse authorities’ and citizens’ information demands and features of crisis apps. Moreover, we present the concept, implementation and evaluation of a crisis app for incident reporting and bidirectional communication between authorities and citizens. Using the app, citizens may (1) report incidents by providing a category, description, location and multimedia files and (2) receive broadcasts and responses from authorities. Finally, we outline features, requirements and contextual factors for incident reporting and bidirectional communication via mobile app.

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