Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response: There's an App for That 2.0.

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Prehosp Disaster Med


INTRODUCTION: In disaster response, smartphone applications (or apps) are being used by the layperson, emergency first responders, and health care providers to aid in everything from incident reporting to clinical decision making. However, quality apps are often diluted by the overwhelming number of apps that exist for both the lay public and first responders in the Apple iTunes (Apple Inc.; Cupertino, California USA) and Google Play (Google LLC; Mountain View, California USA) stores.

HYPOTHESIS/PROBLEM: A systematic review of disaster response apps was originally completed in 2015; a follow-up review was completed here to evaluate trends and explore novel apps.

METHODS: A search of the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores was performed using the following terms obtained from PubMed (National Center for Biotechnology Information; Bethesda, Maryland USA) Medical Subject Headings Database: Emergency Preparedness; Emergency Responders; Disaster; Disaster Planning; Disaster Medicine; Bioterrorism; Chemical Terrorism; Hazardous Materials; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA [Washington, DC USA]). After excluding any unrelated apps, a working list of apps was formed and categorized based on topics. Apps were categorized by intended user (first responders or the public) and sub-categorized by topic for discussion. Sub-categories included News/Information, Reference/Education, Weather/Natural Disasters, Travel/Navigation, and Communication/Reunification.

RESULTS: A search of the Apple iTunes store revealed 394 unique apps and was narrowed to 342 based on relevance to the field and availability on the iPhone. A search of the Google Play store yielded 645 unique applications and was narrowed to 634 based on relevance. Of note, 49 apps appeared in both app stores using the search terms. An aggregate 927 apps from the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores were then critically reviewed by the authors. Apps were sub-categorized based on intended audience, layperson or first responder, and sorted into one of five disaster response categories. Two apps were chosen for discussion from each of the five sub-categories. The highest quality apps were determined from each group based on relevance to emergency preparedness and disaster response, rating, and number of reviews.

CONCLUSION: After comparisons with the 2015 article, many new apps have been developed and previously described apps have been updated, highlighting that this is a constantly changing field deserving of continued analysis and research.





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