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Sensors 2016, 16(3), 406; doi:10.3390/s16030406

Designing Mobile Applications for Emergency Response: Citizens Acting as Human Sensors

Computer Science Department, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Avda. de la Universidad 30, 28911 Leganés, Madrid, Spain
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Debbie G. Senesky
Received: 12 January 2016 / Revised: 26 February 2016 / Accepted: 15 March 2016 / Published: 19 March 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
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Abstract

When an emergency occurs, citizens can be a helpful support for the operation centers involved in the response activities. As witnesses to a crisis, they initially can share updated and detailed information about what is going on. Moreover, thanks to the current technological evolution people are able to quickly and easily gather rich information and transmit it through different communication channels. Indeed, modern mobile devices embed several sensors such as GPS receivers, Wi-Fi, accelerometers or cameras that can transform users into well-equipped human sensors. For these reasons, emergency organizations and small and medium enterprises have demonstrated a growing interest in developing smart applications for reporting any exceptional circumstances. In this paper, we present a practical study about this kind of applications for identifying both limitations and common features. Based on a study of relevant existent contributions in this area and our personal direct experience in developing and evaluating emergency management solutions, our aim is to propose several findings about how to design effective and efficient mobile emergency notification applications. For this purpose we have exploited the basic sensors of modern mobile devices and the users’ aptitude for using them. The evaluation consists of a practical and a theoretical part. In the practical part, we have simulated a traffic accident as closely as possible to a real scenario, with a victim lying on the ground near a car in the middle of a street. For the theoretical part, we have interviewed some emergency experts for collecting their opinions about the utility of the proposed solution. Results from this evaluation phase confirm the positive impact that EN application have for both operators’ and citizens’ perspective. Moreover, we collected several findings useful for future design challenges in the same area, as shown in the final redesign of the proposed application. View Full-Text
Keywords: emergency notification systems; mobile devices; human sensors; social software emergency notification systems; mobile devices; human sensors; social software
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Romano, M.; Onorati, T.; Aedo, I.; Diaz, P. Designing Mobile Applications for Emergency Response: Citizens Acting as Human Sensors. Sensors 2016, 16, 406.

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