Facebook Announces New EMS App

From one of my EMS news feeds:

Menlo Park, CA (AP)

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook’s eagerly awaited new EMS app today at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park. Speaking to a packed crowd of media and EMS industry representatives, Zuckerberg touted the new app as a way to revolutionize EMS social media.

“Facebook has always been tremendously popular among public safety personnel,” Zuckerberg said. “At last count, we had over 20,000 pages devoted to EMS groups or communities, and over 24 million Facebook users worldwide identify themselves as EMT’s or paramedics. And before today, there was no way for them to share status updates and photos with any EMT’s outside their friends network. But with Medicbook, all that will change.”

The new app for iOS and Android smartphones will allow Facebook members a streamlined way to upload their most compelling scene and patient photos, share statuses, tag other EMT’s involved in the call, and play interactive scenario-based games. “Our game suite is still in development,” explained Davis Meachum, Facebook Director of Marketing. “We’ll eventually have a number of high-fidelity medical game simulators built around the patient photos and video our members have uploaded, but for now EMS Facebook users will be able to upload photos and share statuses with the EMS community at large and not just their friends network. Your frequent fliers can even be elected ‘mayor’ of your rig on Foursquare!”

Zuckerberg downplayed privacy concerns expressed by EMS administrators. “Facebook has a long history of zealously protecting the personal data of our members, and that will not change,” Zuckerberg stated. “We got a lot of good feedback from our Beta release, and we made some tweaks. We added a blur tool, for example, to obscure patient faces or other identifying information. You totally couldn’t tell who these people are unless you were directly involved in their care or related to them in some way. I mean, it’s not like we’re releasing social security numbers and addresses or anything. It’s just a photo, the time and location it was taken, the chief complaint, the hospital transported to, and the medic and agency that transported the patient. I think any privacy concerns are way overstated.”

The app will mine location data from geotagging apps such as Foursquare, and personal information from the user’s Facebook profile, giving users a one-click interface for uploading photos or posting status updates.

EMS industry representatives, however, are less impressed with the technology than concerned with its potential for abuse. “I was a Beta tester,” explains Mickey Kuehlman, IAFF Local #4077 President. “This app shares any photo or status uploaded with any Facebook user who lists EMS as his occupation in his profile, not just the people on your friends list. Totally not kosher.”

Meachum acknowledged the bugs in the app’s Beta release, but went on to say, “That’s what Beta releases are for, identifying and fixing bugs. Based on feedback from guys like Mr. Kuehlman, we added an opt-out feature that allows you to limit potentially sensitive photos and patient information only to your friends network. Just go to Account settings > apps > Medicbook > privacy settings > global sharing > user options, and then right-click the boxes that say ‘photos,’ ‘status updates,’ ‘location services,’ and ‘destination hospital,’ and choose ‘friends list only’ from the dropdown menu. Easy peasy, couldn’t be simpler.”



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