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Mobile backup: 10 apps for the public safety professional

Getting information and electronic “backup” is much easier with the widespread use of cloud computing, smartphones, and apps tailored to specific functions


By Giles Hoback, American Military University

At some point in our careers, we have all had to call for backup. Now getting information and electronic “backup” is much easier with the widespread use of cloud computing, smartphones, and apps tailored to specific functions. Below are 10 public safety electronic resources and apps that can be handy in a variety of situations.


Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER) is a mobile library of response information. It is like having a bookshelf of HAZMAT and substance identification tools, including radiological sources and for specialized issues (such as meth labs), in your device. It includes GIS support for map overlays, triage tools, response guides, and peer-reviewed information. WISER is also available as a desktop application.


Homeland Security Information Network (HISN) is a web based platform that is a trusted network for responders to share information related to incidents, analyze data, provide briefings, and send alerts. This platform requires approval and a secure sign on because information is shared at the Sensitive but Unclassified level. HSIN aids in multi-agency communication and productivity and includes secure messaging and Adobe Connect. The program can be used on mobile browsers but is more user friendly in a full browser.

Red Cross (apps for flood, earthquake, hurricane & tornado)

The American Red Cross has a family of mobile apps, such as Hurricane by American Red Cross that allow responders and the public to track storms or other disasters, find shelters, locate family members, and create emergency plans. The apps also have check lists, flashlight/strobe light, and audible alarms. Users can set up personalized alerts, monitor other locations, and interact with social media.

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