No one ever wants to think of the worst-case scenario. It’s scary, unpleasant, and we don’t want to live in a state of panic or fear. But the truth is, knowing what to do and who to call in an emergency is a matter of life and death. Your calm and measured response can add life-saving minutes on a call to emergency responders. 

And when you’re at home, you want the security that your loved ones and belongings are safe and secure. This means having a smart home system that’s equipped with vital information to safeguard your home contents. To learn more about smart homes and emergency responses, we spoke to Alison Publisher, Gerard O’Driscoll. 

Please share with our learners a bit about your background.

Over the past 30 years, I have served in a variety of management, ICT, and commercial positions in both the public and private sectors. In addition to my enthusiasm for the smart home space, I am an active investor in property and emerging Web 3.0 projects.

You have a background as an ICT professional. What made you decide to create courses on Alison?

Since the late nineties, I’ve been creating online courses that several thousand students from around the world have studied. Furthermore, I have authored a number of technology-focused books. The Alison course platform provides an ideal platform to share this content globally.

For those just learning about you, please tell us more about EmergencyMentors and Smart Homes School:

a) is a blog I created to help people correctly make an emergency call.

b) is my website which people visit to learn about setting up smart home devices to improve family safety and security levels.

You’ve been a Self-publisher with Alison for several years. What do you enjoy most about publishing on this platform?

The course creation tools, and technical support provided by are excellent.

Emergency Mentors 

Please share with us about your website and how that came to be.

For a number of years, I managed the day-to-day operations of a 999/112 emergency call-taking organisation and decided to release a blog that provided people with relevant information related to this important industry sector.

What should people know about emergencies?

Emergencies do not happen very often, but when they do, you want to be ready. Know what to do ahead of time and try to stay in control. 

What’s the most common mistake people make in an emergency?

When you find yourself in the middle of a 911 emergency, you might be on the verge of panic. No matter how dire the situation, you need to do your best to be calm and collected when making 911 calls.

How does one plan for an emergency call?

Before you pick up the phone to make a 911, 112, or 999 call to the emergency services, it’s best to be prepared. Some tips include:

  • Post emergency numbers by your phone or in a highly visible place where everyone can refer to it
  • Know the proper emergency number
  • Know about any pre-existing medical conditions

If I have any safety concerns, whom should I call?

In the event of a 112 emergency, it is imperative to ensure that emergency services will arrive on the scene as quickly as possible. The number you dial will be geographically specific and it is important that you know this number. For instance, in the USA, 911 is the number you would use for safety concerns.

Smart Home School

What is a smart home?

A smart home is a property that uses internet-connected devices to enable the remote control and automation of appliances and systems, such as lighting, heating, and security. This can make daily tasks more convenient and efficient and can enhance the overall security and safety of the home.

Is it costly to turn your home into a smart home?

The addition of a smart home system to your home is surprisingly affordable and relatively easy to install. There is a perception amongst the public that smart home automation systems are very expensive. Although this perception exists, the current reality is that the price point for introductory smart home kits in Europe is between €400 and €1,000, whereas in the USA price points are slightly lower. 

For instance, a $399 kit will provide you with a basic smartphone and smart speaker control of your lighting and heating system. If the smart home system is used proactively to manage electricity usage, then these types of systems often pay for themselves over a two- or three-year period.

Why should people invest in smart homes?

There is a perception out there that ‘fancy’ automation systems cost a fortune, whereas these systems are very affordable and can save you some money. Once installed and configured a next-generation smart home system helps you to save on your monthly electricity, gas, and water bills.

Can smart home products reduce the risks of fire and flood damage?

Smart Homes are synonymous with entertainment and increasing your security levels, but they can also make life safer at home. They can not only reduce risks to your or your family’s health but can also prevent costly damage to your house caused by fire and leaking water.

How does smart home automation enhance your lifestyle?

It is true to say that many smart home automation products released in the early years were buggy, technically complex, and required an IT-savvy person to run daily. The truth nowadays is that most, if not all smart home automation products provide easy control of all your lights, heating, security, and entertainment systems via a tablet, phone, smart speaker, or PC.

What are the benefits of having a smart home?

Although the benefits of adding smart automation to your home will vary from person to person, there are some general ones that most people can enjoy as a result of adding smart home systems to a property. My three favorites are:

  • Smart home devices are simple to use.
  • A properly implemented smart home can improve your comfort and convenience.
  • Enhanced security and safety levels.

One misconception about smart homes is that they are only for the wealthy or those with big houses. How true is this?

It is embellished in most people’s minds that smart house automation is not affordable and only available to ‘rich’ people in our society. The truth is that major service providers are reselling affordable smart house control and alarm subscription products to their existing base of customers. 

So smart home automation is in fact becoming a mainstream solution and no longer is home automation confined to the privileged in society!

More about Gerard’s courses

Who should take your courses?

My courses are structured to fit a wide variety of students. If you feel that you might benefit from the increased safety and security offered by smart home systems, then consideration should be given to taking my ‘Home Automation: How to Make a Smart Home’. 

Due to the importance of the ‘Learn How to Use The 911, 999 & 112 Emergency Services Correctly’ course, my goal is to enrol all Alison users and indeed full populations to avail of this course that has the potential to save lives. I also encourage readers to share this information with their friends and family, it is lifesaving. Learning how to call emergency services is worth knowing!

What feedback have you received from learners about your course? What do people enjoy most about your courses?

The general feedback from both the smart home and emergency services courses is very positive, over the years and encouraging from a personal perspective to continue creating content for both of these vertical industries.

How will your courses help enrich the lives of those who take them?

Many people don’t realize the impact that smart home devices can have on their daily lives. ‘Home Automation: How to Make a Smart Home’ provides a roadmap to change your life for the better.  Most people will call the emergency services (911, 112, 999) only once or twice during their lifetimes. Knowing how to obtain emergency services can make the difference between life and death. The ‘Learn How to Use The 911, 999 and 112 Emergency Services Correctly’ course will prepare you and your family by learning all about emergency services at home and abroad.

For individuals interested in taking one of your courses, what can they expect to get from it?

With most smart home products these days, there are a lot of choices available. With my course you will be provided with an easy to follow, hands-on online course designed to take you from idea of a fully integrated smart home!  With my emergency services course, I give you the exact formula to correctly make an emergency call.

What career paths are available for someone interested in pursuing your courses?

The ‘Home Automation: How to Make a Smart Home’ course acts as a primer for electricians and IT professionals to earn a side hustle business installing smart home devices. The Certified Next-Generation Smart Home Installer (NGSHI) professional program is available to help grow your pipeline of smart home installations. Some students enroll in the ‘Learn How to Use The 911, 999 and 112 Emergency Services Correctly’ to commence a career in emergency services.

Publishing on Alison

What lessons or takeaways have you learned as a self-publisher on Alison?

I participated in a few courses on before publishing my content on the platform. Furthermore, the onboarding experience was excellent.

How has being a self-publisher on Alison changed or impacted your life?

The ability to expand my brand to thousands of learners worldwide has provided a boost to my content creation capabilities.

What words of advice would you give someone who would like to become a publisher on Alison?

Applying to be a content creator on Alison is very straightforward and support during the course publishing phase and ongoing account management is of a high standard.

What can Alison and its learners look forward to from you in the coming year or two?

I am continuing to develop new courses and as time goes on, these courses will be made available to the Alison students.

Any last words, advice, or wisdom you’d like to share with our learners?

Understanding smart homes and the mechanics of an emergency call can add a range of lifestyle-enhancing benefits.

Whether you’re staying at home or going away over this holiday season, you know who to call. Arm yourself with the best knowledge and protection for your home and enrol on Alison today!

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