I am working on an app that monitors firefighters during an incident.

It could happen that we need to refresh the page automatically, in order to ensure that the user uses the last version of the app.

A refresh will be a result of critical and non-critical updates. For non-critical updates, it will be okay to allow the user to ignore them, but in case of a critical bug fix, that is essential to monitor the firefighters, I think that it should be mandatory.

If this happens in the middle of an incident, how would you recommend communicating that the page will be refreshed to the user?

Do you know some app with similar characteristics?

  • For clarity: who is this app for? Is it specifically designed to only monitor firefighters from a distance, or is it also meant to (in)directly command firefighters in realtime? – Levano Sep 17 at 7:00
  • It is to monitoring firefighter from a distance in real time. For example, if there is a fire in a building, the commander will stay outside for monitoring the persons that go inside. – Maria Cristina Mardon Sep 17 at 7:59
  • if it is an HTML page, why you just use: script.js?v3, script.js?v4. This force the browser to re-download the asset. Or use window.reload(true). – Gabriel Anderson 9 hours ago
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You will have to make a very thought through tradeoff that considers not only the importance of the bug fix versus the importance of securing human lives in that critical situation, but also the consequences and responsibility that come with it.

I would never enforce a page refresh without the user's approval. What if a commander is performing a task such as advising firefighters about collapsing walls? A page reload to perform bug fixes that could potentially fix something totally unrelated could be devastating.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Interfering with the user's task could have severe results.
  2. The message should be short and clear.
    • It should be readable in extreme situations.
  3. The user should determine if the risks weigh up against the benefits.
  4. The user should know how long it will take to reload the page.
    • Keep poor connections (2G, bad coverage, etc.) in mind.

Example screens:

Critical update example screens

Car and cargo monitoring system generally use this approach. I would use a friendly message and let him understand that it is essential for him to do this, something like:

To maintain your security we need to make a critical update to our system, the page will be automatically refreshed. Thank you.

  • Welcome to UX StackExchange. I like your answer. Do you have specific examples of app in mind? Could you provide screenshots? We aim for detailed, self-sufficient answers as much as possible. – celinelenoble Sep 14 at 22:01

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