How mobile apps are keeping employees safe in the workplace

 —  Article by Scott Sutton @ScottSutton5
Portrait of young businessman in office with colleagues in the background and using mobile
Image credit: Shutterstock

When Meredith Hall leaves for work in the morning, she no longer has to wear the medic-alert bracelet that identifies her as a Type I diabetic.

That’s because Hall, an office administration manager working in the 1515 and 1555 Poydras buildings in New Orleans, now leaves that up to her mobile phone, where on the advice of her office landlord, she installed a free-to-use and readily available app called Medical ID.

“If my blood sugar drops I have a very hard time communicating, so having the ability to just allow my phone do that is really amazing,” said Hall.

Hall’s experience is just one example in a new movement in the property management industry to take the tenant experience beyond just changing light bulbs and maintaining the plumbing.

Shifting expectations

When it comes to the Trophy and Class A office space that makes up North America’s skylines, having an office in a modern building or a desirable location just isn’t enough for tenants anymore. In fact, a beautiful physical space is only a fraction of what tenants expect when they lease a premium space.

More than ever, tenants are looking to their property managers for innovative services that take into account the full experience of the people who work there. According to JLL’s Skyline report, the expectation for exceptional services has produced a new mantra: What have you done for me lately?

For JLL’s Senior Vice President and National Security Liaison Mark Anderson, that call is being answered by technology – including mobile applications – that improves the most essential property management function: tenant safety.

“For years, property management teams have been using web-based technology to increase the effectiveness and quality of a building’s emergency response plans,” says Anderson. “Now we are seeing some of property managers get creative, whether it’s with services that make your evacuation plans mobile-friendly or mobile apps that supplement tenant safety plans.”

Dealing with the unexpected

To see how mobile apps are effectively being used to increase tenant safety, look no further than New Orleans.

“Since Hurricane Katrina, staying ahead of the curve to ensure tenant safety has become an absolute must,” says Jacques Legrand, senior chief engineer of 1515 and 1555 Poydras Street. “We have pivoted to mobile phone apps because the technology is ubiquitous and easy to access.”

Legrand is behind the push for tenants at the buildings to use Medical ID, the app that Hall uses for her diabetic stats. This free app is available for iPhones and Androids and allows first responders to see crucial medical information such as blood type, allergies and emergency contacts in case they come across an incapacitated person. All of that information is available from a phone’s lock screen, so accessibility is not an issue.

Another way Legrand and his team of property managers are keeping tenants safe is through a mobile app called See Send. The app, which is available for both iPhone and Android, encourages users to snap photos of suspicious activity and send it to local law enforcement in an effort to prevent crime and terrorism.

“Keeping tenants aware of what technology is available for their use has become an incredibly important part of my job,” says Legrand. “Technology like these mobile apps helps us communicate faster, and also keeps the avenues of communication consistent.”

Other popular mobile technology includes Mass Alert notifications, which allow property managers to send emergency alerts across multiple mediums to tenants in a single message from a smartphone or tablet. “The ability to send emergency notifications to hundreds of people at a moment’s notice is paramount to the safety of a building’s tenants,” says Anderson.

However, Anderson notes that caution should be used when looking at mobile apps as a cure-all for property management communication needs. He notes that while millions of people in the United States own smartphones, many still do not.

“At the end of the day, your building’s public announcement system is still going to be your primary means of communication in an emergency situation,” says Anderson. But for Hall, – and the countless other workers around the world – the growing use of mobile apps in the workplace are bringing an extra layer of protection and with it, peace of mind.

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