Are Evacuation Practices Flawed?

By Megan Gates

The university plans to promote the app through other universitywide drills, including tornado drills and tests of the emergency notification system. However, GMU won’t be using the app for other types of emergency notifications just yet, Farris says.

“We wanted to make sure that we have the resources and the administrative procedures in place to sustain using In Case of Crisis as another means because it would require me to login to a separate system, and I’m concerned that in the heat of the moment, I’m going to find myself buried in the emergency and not able to remember,” Farris explains, adding that he and IBA are working on a solution to automate the process.
In addition to the publicly available app that is encouraged for student use, GMU is developing three other versions targeted towards its Executive Council and Emergency Operations staff. These other versions are password- protected to limit access to those who are credentialed to use them, Britton says.

The Executive Council version is focused on what the university needs to do when there’s an emergency. It provides council members with guides to issues that need to be considered, actions that need to be taken, and an order of succession. “So if...our senior vice president can’t reach the president because he’s out of the country, she can go to the app, and she can look at that list, and go, ‘Oh, his successor is so-and-so,’ hit a button, and call that person, or e-mail that person, directly out of the app,” Farris explains.

GMU’s approach is similar to a trend that IBA is noticing in the business community with more and more businesses looking to adopt technology that can help business continuity in a crisis situation, Britton says. “We’re starting to see a lot of interest from corporations that traditionally have treated business continuity more as a Web site-driven thing and what they’re finding is that, well, Web sites go down, Web sites aren’t available when communications go down, and having something that’s a mobile-based solution is really powerful.”



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