When Disaster Response Apps Fail

When disaster-response apps fail

The scene in Nice the morning after the July 14 terror attack – during which an emergency-warning app failed to give timely notice. Michel Abada, CC BY-SA
When a terrorist struck Nice, France, on July 14, a new French government app designed to alert people failed. Three hours passed before SAIP, as the app is called, warned people in and around Nice to the danger on the city’s waterfront during Bastille Day festivities.

This aspect of the tragedy highlights an emerging element of disaster preparation and response: the potential for smartphone apps, social media sites and information technology more broadly to assist both emergency responders and the public at large in figuring out what is happening and what to do about it.

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