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Living in the sunshine state of Florida can be a beautiful and warm adventure, but it also can be a storm filled season of tropical storms, and hurricane madness. One thing that has happened because of the destruction that “Hurricane Katrina” caused in New Orleans is that it brought attention to the importance of preparedness. States ramped up their informational flyers, websites, and other ways of getting information out more quickly to their areas during these powerful storms. One important technology currently used to distribute information in a timely manner is phone apps. This paper will discuss, and describe the new Red Cross Hurricane App. It will describe how the app is used and what changes it has brought about to its users, and last it will discuss some likely future uses and enhancements of this app. The purpose of the Red Cross hurricane app is to give local citizens and visitors the ability to track, and monitor hurricanes from their mobile phone. Hurricanes can be unpredictable, and there is never a clear picture about when or where it will strike. Most people have a cell phone in today’s society and according to a recent Nielsen report 88% of those are smart phones.

The new Red Cross App is free, and it gives its users the ability to track storms, shelters, and other important information right from their hand held phone. It is clear that storms frequently visit the sunshine state of Florida and that keeps the states citizens in hurricane tracking mode. Jack McMaster, president of Preparedness, Health and Safety Services at the American Red Cross said “This free Hurricane App puts personalized preparedness information in the pockets and purses of those who need it” (PRNewswire, 2012 pg.4b). The free app can be downloaded from the American Red Cross website to an individual’s smart phones, and the rest is as easy as touching the different links to navigate through the hurricane survival information they need.

Hurricane information is updated, and assessable like it would be on personal computers or the local weather channel. This information can be easily used by individuals to ensure that they have the latest track of the storm and what areas are already damaged and inaccessible. According to a recent article by Rachel Leitao of First Coast News (Rachel Leitao, 2012), the following features can be found on the new hurricane app. • One touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends via social media outlets that they are out of harm’s way • Location-based NOAA weather alerts for the United States and its territories users can share on social networks • Remote monitoring of personalized weather alerts where family and friends reside • Location of open Red Cross shelters

• Simple steps and checklist people can use to create a family emergency plan • Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity • Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light, and audible alarm • Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks The app gives local citizens and visitors the comfort of knowing that immediate updates are instantly available from their smart phones. Although the app was just released by the Red Cross, its concepts should prove to be a valuable asset to its users. One major change this app brings is that it takes away the limitations of tracking a storm, such as power outages or not being near a computer, television or radio.

This app gives the user instant access to updates, shelter information, and much more emergency information during a storm. Hurricane Katrina was a clear representation of not possessing enough warning resources to issue updates on a storm to their citizens. This app has access to social media, which is a perfect place to distribute information. Some likely future enhancements will be not only to show where storm shelters and supplies can be found but also the nearest emergency assistance such as police and fire stations. An enhancement of this magnitude would cut down on arrival time of emergency help in any given situation and could be a major benefit to those who have the access right at their fingertips.

Keeping in touch with every movement of a hurricane can be valuable to the citizens and visitors of the state it threatens. This information was to enlighten citizens on the new Red Cross phone app. It discussed the purpose of the new Red Cross app, how it is used, what changes it has brought about and possible future enhancements. The Red Cross has made a significant effort with the creation of this app, to provide better emergency care and awareness. This new app is designed to ensure that whether you are from the state or just visiting, you can have access to up-to-date emergency information with the push of a button. For all we know this new app could be the difference between life and death.

References

Rachel Leitao (2012, August 1) App of the Day: Red Cross Hurricane App. First Coast News

Retrieved August 5, 2012, from http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/article/266784/483/App-of-the-Day-Red-Cross-Hurricane-App-

Red Cross (2012 August 1). PRNewswire 2012 pg 4. New Hurricane App Brings American Red Cross Safety Information to Smart Phones. Retrieved August 5, 2012 from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-hurricane-app-brings-american-red-cross-safety-information-to-smart-phones-164555666.html

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