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What makes for a successful crisis app?

Alerting and assembling your crisis management team and thereafter accounting for staff are essential crisis management capabilities.

This will almost inevitably involve a smart phone and some form of crisis app. Thereafter you have a choice: either go for one of the mass notification giants such as F24 or Everbridge or you keep it domestic with a humble messenger application such as WhatsApp.

To which some will respond: you must be joking you can’t use a toy like WhatsApp in an emergency, but many do, including some of our clients.

Crisis Solutions recently worked with a large investment bank in the City of London that has access to one of the mass notification systems, but has in the past used WhatsApp in an emergency because the CEO likes it and it’s a method of communication they feel moves seamlessly from business as usual to an emergency.

Whether you go big or small, a crisis app needs to be intuitive and easy to use. If not, the stresses and tensions of an emergency will prove its downfall. This of course is where the domestic apps score as typically they are used on a daily basis.


However, it goes without saying, the functionality provided by the big computer based systems far outweighs anything offered by the domestic apps and is why they are popular with larger organisations. However, you won’t want all the bells and whistles available on your computer winding up on your phone. You need the ability to keep it lean and clean on your handset and be able to leave out less critical elements.

Typing on a small screen can be tricky, so message templates that can be cut and pasted will be welcomed. Integration with Google maps is also a great way of identifying staff location.

You may need to access critical documents during an emergency. Ideally, your app should make this happen effortlessly.

Different platforms

All your staff will have smart phones, either their own or those supplied by the company but it’s unlikely they will all be the same. The crisis app has to work comfortably across all platforms including iPhones, iPads and Android devices.

A colleague works at an organisation that continues to use Blackberry phones because of their enhanced security. Unfortunately, the market has not been kind to Blackberry and many new apps won’t work on this brand.

Second line of defence

From a crisis perspective, the great thing about personal smart phones is they are almost always on and are independent from a company’s IT infrastructure. In the wake of a cyber-attack, with a company’s IT under threat, they can provide an excellent second line of defence.

It’s well-known that during a terror attack police do shutdown mobile phone networks, but as we saw in London with both the Westminster and London Bridge attacks, the blackout was contained in a very small area and lasted a short time. This contrasts with the 2005 bombs in London when mobile networks were out across London for many hours.

Whichever way you go – tech giant or free messenger – and there is a huge disparity between the two, a crisis app must be a bit of tech that your staff are conversant with prior to an emergency and can satisfy your crisis management requirements. The choice is yours.