United States’ citizens who experience emergencies while traveling abroad don’t have an easy, reliable way to communicate their status to the US State Department. As American tourism increases and global terrorism rises, we need a way for US Embassy personnel to quickly verify the location and status of US citizens in the event of an emergency. Social media platforms “Safety Checks” are simply not reliable enough to be used when actual rescues are necessary because of issues with authentication victims and location, lack of secure two-way communication with rescuers, and unfortunately it’s possible for terrorists to compromise social media sources. We need a solution that provides US Embassy personnel with a realistic solution to evacuate civilians.
Virtual Badge® is this solution – a software system that allows the State Department to immediately verify the status of US citizens in an affected area, communicate with them as a group or individually, and ensure that responders can be deployed quickly and efficiently.
Virtual Badge® is a two-part software system that uses smartphones and/or tablets to collect and display information, and a web-based Control Center to view and analyze data, allowing for identity management, activity reporting, optional GPS tracking, and inter-agency cooperation.
Realtime observations are gathered through the mobile devices of those on the ground, and that information is used to understand the situation and make important, sometimes life and death, decisions about response and rescue. This is particularly important in situations where US citizens need to stay mobile to flee the threat. This system has been used in some of the worst disasters over the last 8 years, including the Haitian Earthquake, BP Oil Spill, Japanese Tsunami, and many hurricanes.
The State Department could quickly offer Virtual Badge® as a free download, from either the Google Play or iTunes App Store, to any US citizen traveling abroad. U.S. Citizens could securely register their personal information, and would receive notification once the State Department had verified their credentials. Verified travelers could log in at any time, and could even add family members to their badge. The Virtual Badge® application simply stays on the phone until the emergency functions are activated by the US Embassy or the user.
In the event of an emergency the US Embassy could issue alerts to all US citizens currently in a certain country or area, while also allowing these citizens to submit pertinent updates back to an Embassy. Important life-saving information can be instantly transmitted through Virtual Badge®, including citizen locations, injury statuses, travel routes, and any confidential safety information that Americans might need. In the event of an emergency involving a single person or small group, a user could choose to activate the GPS tracker in Virtual Badge®. A “panic button” would also be available for endangered U.S. Citizens who require immediate assistance from the US Embassy.
All Virtual Badge® data is sent to a secure, web-based Control Center with remote access, allowing for cooperation among agencies in the US, and US Embassies abroad. Virtual Badge® has the capability to handle thousands of reports coming in at once and can even perform instant analysis to prioritze needs, which is essential for responders to strategize and act effectively.
The State Department is issuing travel advisories across the world more and more frequently, including all of Europe for the next 90 days. Right now, major news outlets are announcing that US citizens are being targeted. Virtual Badge® represents unprecedented safety and communication benefits for American travelers which could be implemented in a very short time to address the crisis threat facing Americans abroad today.
Virtual Badge® is a product of Disaster Solutions LLC a client of Quintana Advisory Corp. It is available for government and commercial clients. Interested parties should contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.