The 5 Most Common Reasons Why Smartphones Fail at Property Safety

The 5 Most Common Reasons Why Smartphones Fail at Property Safety

In the digital age, you’d think that it would be a given to rely on your tenants using a smartphone to get help in the event of an emergency on your property. Why not? They’re everywhere, and they’re generally reliable. They do practically everything for us! 

In fact, smartphones have virtually rendered more traditional communication methods, like payphones, and in many cases, even home phones, obsolete. By that logic, one may assume that emergency help phones must be a thing of the past as well, especially if they aren’t in a position where they are liable for others’ safety needs.

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Believe it or not, the latest isn’t always the greatest.

However, as advanced and as powerful as the smartphone is, it’s also fragile and delicate, and it can be rendered useless with one simple malfunction. You know the feeling you get when your phone freezes or simply doesn’t work right? Now, imagine that same situation in the midst of an emergency, when someone on your property desperately needs a connection to help. In an instance like this, advanced graphics aren’t going to help. In fact, it can even slow them down.

It all boils down to reliability. 

First and foremost, we think it’s important that property managers specifically recognize their tenants’ smartphones don’t even have the means to connect to the most effective methods of emergency response. Safety apps and even 911 centers leave more to be desired when it comes to seeking emergency help. You can read more about specific concerns and vulnerabilities these cause in the blog posts: 

Here, however, we’re focusing on the functionality shortcomings of the smartphone itself and how this affects its reliability. Let’s review the most common reasons why smartphones fail while keeping the implications of such failures in mind during an emergency situation. From there we can investigate the most dependable alternative in the event of an emergency.

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Of course, often, your phone works fine without running into any of the mishaps mentioned in the list below, but not often enough. It’s hard to imagine anyone who hasn’t experienced most, if not all, of the following failures. This highlights just how common they really are, driving home the importance of preparing for the worst when it comes to property safety.  

The most common smartphone fails:

Low battery power 

All the latest technology sure can run down your phone’s battery life, can’t it? Charging your phone regularly is not always possible. This isn’t such a huge deal when you’re out and about and simply can’t check your social media for a few hours. However, a low battery is playing with fire if your tenants need power to communicate with those who can help in an emergency. 

Bad reception 

It may not even be the phone that is to blame. It could be the location or the service provider. We’ve all been there — not being able to connect to WiFi, send texts, or make calls. It’s a helpless, frustrating feeling.

As you probably know, smartphones typically will allow someone to connect to 911 with or without service, thank goodness. However, there are many property safety instances that can occur on-site that may not necessarily warrant a 911 call but still affect a tenant’s wellbeing and should be addressed. See: Property Safety: The Small Items that Make a Difference. 

Bad apps

Going along with the theme here– too often, advanced technology brings with it advanced technical problems. Not all apps are downloaded without issue. It could be the result of a hardware problem or a bad upgrade, but in any case,  one bad apple can spoil the whole phone via freezing, application crashes, an overall lag in speed, etc. 

This is the type of issue that typically eventually sorts itself out, but that will provide no comfort to someone experiencing it when they need to connect to help in a dire situation. Even using the old standby hack — turning your phone off and on — can also waste precious time if an emergency is in progress. 

Hardware and software not updated 

Ironically, both adding an app update AND not updating can produce very similar results. It’s easy to miss an update notification, or suddenly realize that you’re only at 2.0 when you should be at 5.0. Lack of updating may result in slowing, freezing, or simply not being able to function correctly or seamlessly, not unlike the issues we mentioned above.


The biggest nightmare of the digital age — accidentally dropping your phone in water. However, a mere drizzle or a small coffee spill could do just as much damage. Of course, most phones sold today tout of their water resistance, but experience has taught us that we can’t always rely on that selling point. The smartphone’s circuitry is intricate and sensitive, and moisture is not its friend. You never know which bad weather day or spill is going to push a smartphone over its edge. One can only hope it’s not when you may need your phone most. 

As we’ve continuously stated, it all comes down to reliability. If a tenant’s safety is compromised on your premises, do you want the response to depend on a perfectly functioning cell phone? The odds aren’t as great as you think. 

Time is of the essence.

Okay, then, if any of these disasters could happen to someone’s phone, why not simply borrow another phone to make the emergency call? One word: passwords. If the password is unknown, the phone is not accessible (or at least not quickly). End of story.

An additional item to consider: If someone in the midst of an emergency makes a smartphone call, can the first responders know where he or she is just from their phone location? Not always. Smartphones are structured from nearby cell phone towers, but that doesn’t mean that the call will go to the closest 911 center or that the responders will be able to locate you immediately. The time it takes to do the legwork could cost lives.

Read our blog post on why you should never use a deactivated cell phone as your emergency pool phone.

The dependable solution: an emergency communication system.

A dedicated emergency communication system like Kings III gets you the help that a traditional smartphone may not be able to achieve.

Consider these benefits:

Cellular options 

You can choose from a fixed landline system and a cellular solution, depending on your tenants’ needs and locations. Read more about it here. 

Blue light” phones — yes, they’re still a thing

They’re stationary at a fixed, predetermined location, usually somewhere with easy access. Who monitors these phones? Security teams, municipal 911 centers, or specialized third-party monitoring providers (like us). The result: faster, more accurate emergency dispatches with pre-arrival instructions, avoiding confusion and missing info. Important to note: not all answering services are created equal. See our recommended minimum standards for emergency phone monitoring to evaluate criteria that help ensure tenants receive the best response.

Fixed location 

When using an emergency help phone, the information regarding a tenant’s location is already loaded up and ready. The emergency dispatch center already knows the tenant’s exact location when a call is placed. They’re auto-identified! This saves the time of having to communicate these details, allowing the operator to get to the issue at hand. 

 Live operators standing by to help, 24/7/365 

Kings III dispatch operators are Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatch (AEMD) certified and can provide pre-arrival instructions around the clock as needed. 

Over 30 years of direct emergency experience 

Kings III has been in this business for over 30 years, offering a variety of phone systems for every type of emergency that could occur on your property. We’ve worked hard to tailor a system that offers dependable 24/7 emergency monitoring services and maintenance to help give you peace of mind in the event of an emergency.

Find out more about how Kings III Emergency Communications can help you and your tenants in times of need here.

Specializing Life Safety & Security for Your Property


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Kings III makes it easy as a single point-of-contact for all your emergency response needs. With expertise in line connectivity, compliance codes, equipment maintenance, and safety protocol, we offer the total package.