My Top 10 apps for Security Professionals
Continuing on the theme of planning for emergencies in this weeks article I would like to look at the use of mobile phone applications in emergency preparation and in general security operations. I am a big fan of leveraging new technologies to make our jobs easier and enhance our ability to maintain a secure environment. The use of mobile phone technology has been huge in the past number of years and those little devices in our hands have become one the primary tools in the security departments across a variety of sectors.
While mobile technology can be a great asset to the security profession the traditional view of a security operative standing with a mobile phone in hand hasn’t delivered a very positive impression of the industry. The introduction and use of mobile phone technology has to be communicated to clients and management alike and its benefits and uses explained clearly. There is very little point in using technology to make yourself better at your role while appearing to make you worse.
In this article I’m going to list 10 of my favourite and most used mobile phone applications. I have used and tested all of these applications over the past number of years and I will detail how they have helped me on various projects. Firstly, to state that I’m an iPhone user so I have downloaded all of these from the app store. I’m not going to link to the on the app store because I know many of you will be using Android devices but I will link to the websites where possible, They have a variety of uses from first aid, to emergency plans, risk assessment and even a training app.
They are also not in any particular order or preference but you will see the ones I have used more often than others. All of these are also free but many have premium versions that you can upgrade to. Where I have upgraded I will state it here also.
Top 10 Apps
- i Auditor: The iAuditor app from Safety Culture is one of my most used apps. It has thousands of templates fro creating free checklists, risk assessments, surveys, staff appraisals and emergency management plans. I use it on an almost daily basis. You can complete the checklist.assessment procedure in the app and inset photographs, drawings, signatures and with a single click convert it to a very professional looking PDF report. A second click and you can send the report via email to as many people as you like. With the premium version (I use this version) you can convert to a word document and put your own company logo etc on the pages. Highly recommended.
- Evernote: This again is one of my most commonly used apps. Its essentially a very advanced notebook app which does so much more. I’m not a fan of using digital notebooks instead of standard paper based version especially for recording personal details of members of the public (specifically relating to the use of personal mobile phones). I do however know of organisations who supply company mobiles and use Evernote accounts as their employee notebooks and daily security log. The account can be synced over a number of devices. It can be used to create notebooks, save them into categories and insert things like photos and signatures etc. for use as a audit log. A great feature is the ability to record and sync audio notes where a supervisor can leave a shift instruction or handover as an audio message and it can immediately sync with all operatives e-notebooks.
- Citizen Aid: This amazing app and training platform has been produced in the wake of recent terror attacks in the UK and mainland Europe. It contains preparation advice, training notes and immediate action training in the event of a terror attack. It may be geared towards terror attacks but the instructions have applications for any of the kind of major incidents outlined in the recent article I wrote on the subject.
- Magic Plan : I was introduced to this app a couple of years ago by an architect. Basically it turns the camera on your smart phone into a CAD drawing programme. Its brilliant for drawing up room plans, building plans and site layouts. Stand in a room, turn on your camera and turn in a circle. The app measures distances and wall surfaces and creates a plan of the room. Walk to the next room and the GPS tracker picks this up. Repeat the process until you eventually have a full map of the building with windows and doors marked in. Add in other features such as equipment and CCTV locations later. In a few hours you can have detailed site plans and equipment plans for any location.
- Irish Red Cross: This app is essentially a first aid and emergency response encyclopedia in your phone. You can use it to learn first aid, prepare emergency plans from the guidance and even get step by step assistance to respond in an emergency. For personal use its also great to have at home or on holidays etc. There is even a link to the emergency services contacts in countries all over the world. The St. Johns Ambulance organisation also do a great version with their app but I personally prefer the layout and ease of use of the Red Cross app.
- Zello: This app was recently reported to have been the most downloaded app in America during the recent hurricanes. It basically turns your mobile phone into an advanced secure two way radio system.I have worked with a number of nightclubs recently who replaced their two ways radios with cheap smartphones and Bluetooth earpieces and used this app. Different groups can be set up for private conversations.Messages can be sent similar to Whatsapp etc. as well as voice messages. A similar app on the market is Voxer which I have also tested with a client but I find Zello easier and more functional to use.
- LastPass: Personal and information security is an essential part of a security operatives role. This app is more geared towards the general day to day role of the security operative. Most research into security breaches lead directly to human error and the people with the most access and passwords are usually the security team. Last pass is a password manager and one that I have found excellent over the last number of years. A password manager basically takes all of your passwords for your emails, social media sites and anything else you want to secure and then encrypts them all. You then log in using the password manager each time. The password manager can then automatically update your passwords on a cyclical basis making it much more difficult for somebody to exploit your information and use it against your your employer. Maybe not specifically an emergency planning app but a breach caused by you can certainly turn into an emergency very quickly.
- Headspace: A mindfulness and meditation app may not immediately seem relevant to emergency planning or security but believe me it is. I’m a big believer in meditation in the security industry for focus, productivity and stress management. Take a read of my article on mindfulness for security operatives here before scoffing at the idea. If I’m honest using this app regularly will do more for your ability to plan for and react to an emergency than any of the other apps in this article.
- Coursera: This is a training app and its something I believe all security operatives should sign up for. One of my motto’s is to always be learning and this app is a great resource for it. In terms of planning for emergencies you can take free courses in areas such as cyber security, counter terrorism and crisis management from some of the best colleges and universities around the world. The courses themselves are free but you will have to pay for some of the certifications or examinations at the end. Still though all of that free information can only make you better.
- My Red Folder : This app is deigned as a family emergency plan for major emergencies in America. It can however be adapted for use as a emergency planning app anywhere. While the ability to store emergency plans in the app is good the best feature on this app is the check in feature which allows security team members to check in using their location and confirm they are safe during an emergency.
So those are my top 10 emergency planning apps for security operatives. Like I said I’ve tested them all and found them useful in different contexts. While technology can be a great tool in the right hands it cannot be 100% relied upon. Technology fails as we all know so while these applications can assist you in the design of plans and emergency response dont default your safety or that of your colleagues to them. Continue to learn, prepare and practice. Hopefully the worst never happens but if it doesn’t then be ready for it.
STAY SAFE OUT THERE