Emergency management experts like Francisco Sanchez, spokesman for the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, are starting to raise the banner for customized emergency alerts. The reason they believe this is the wave of the future is due to mobile technology, especially smart phones.
Mobilizing Customized Emergency Alerts
The advent of mobile devices means that customization is now relatively easy. Gone are the days when a single external audio alarm warned entire regions of tornados, forest fires or even nuclear attacks. These old systems, while effective, provide no insight into the exact nature of the event – in other words, each event receives the same exact audio alarm, making it difficult for people to fully grasp the best course of action.
Nowadays, alerts are not restricted to loud audio alarms. Smart phones and social media enable a level of customized emergency alerts that simply were not possible as little as a decade ago. In today’s world, we can customize anything, so why not emergency alerts too?
From an emergency planning perspective, I love the idea of customized alerts. Customization would help utility emergency response for two main reasons:
- Residents would have a greater level of understanding regarding the nature of the event, and as such would be more likely to respond or behave in an optimal manner
- Utility personnel would have an immediate sense of what is happening, essentially enabling them to get a head start on the response
I predict that customized emergency alerts will predominate within 5 years. And when it does, we will all be better off for it.