Let’s re-write another NWS alert

This recent alert was screaming “re-write” when it came in last night.   So here goes:

The Original

HEADLINE: Heat Advisory issued June 17 at 10:38PM EDT until June 18 at 8:00PM EDT by NWS Buffalo

DESCRIPTION: …HEAT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM TO 8 PM EDT
MONDAY
* LOCATIONS…Niagara, Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Northern Cayuga,
Oswego, Genesee, Livingston, and Ontario counties.
* TIMING…From late Monday morning through early Monday evening.
* HEAT INDEX VALUES…In the upper 90s.
* IMPACTS…The combination of hot temperatures and high
humidity levels will result in a potential for heat-related
illnesses if proper precautions are not taken.

INSTRUCTIONS: A Heat Advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is
expected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity
will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are
possible. Drink plenty of fluids…stay in an air-conditioned
room…stay out of the sun…and check in on relatives and
neighbors.
Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. when
possible…reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or
evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat
stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when
possible and drink plenty of water.
To reduce risk during outdoor work…the occupational safety and
health administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks
in shaded or air conditioned environments. anyone overcome by
heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke
is an emergency – call 9 1 1.

———————————————————————————————————–

Our Re-write, based on the Mileti principles:

HEADLINE: NWS Buffalo: High Temperature Danger on Monday, June 18 from 10AM to 8:00PM EDT

* SOURCE: NWS Buffalo

* HAZARD: Heat index in the high 90s starting at 10AM Monday.  Hot weather and high humidity means a risk of heat illness, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

* LOCATIONS…NY State: Niagara, Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Northern Cayuga, Oswego, Genesee, Livingston, and Ontario counties. (a link to a map here would make so much sense.)

* GUIDANCE …From 10AM Monday, drink plenty of fluids…stay out of the sun and in air-conditioning where possible…and check in on relatives and neighbors.
If outside, do these things, if possible: limit high-effort activities to early morning or evening. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing. Drink plenty of water.  Schedule rest breaks every hour in the shade or cooler area. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Call 9 1 1 if heat stroke or exhaustion is suspected.

* EXPIRES… Early Monday evening (8PM).

———————————————————————————-

Not only does this reduce the number of words, but we cut the reading level required by 1-2 grades and went from “fairly difficult” to “fairly easy” to read. (Here’s the test we used.)

This could also be improved on.  For example, a link to a resource explaining the symptoms of heat exhaustion/stroke would be helpful.   And the words “overcome by heat” are ambiguous.  Listing some symptoms, such as “feeling faint, dizzy or weak” would be much more clear.

To make a template out of this, we could do it this way, making the assumption that there is a weather forecast that lets us choose a start time:

* SOURCE: {Source}

* HAZARD: Heat index in {Heat index} starting at {Start time}. Hot weather and high humidity means a risk of heat illness, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

* LOCATION {Location}

* Guidance: From {Start}, drink plenty of fluids…stay out of the sun and in air-conditioning where possible…and check in on relatives and neighbors.
If outside, do these things, if possible: limit work or exercise to early morning or evening. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing. Drink plenty of water.  Schedule rest breaks every hour in the shade or a cooler area. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Call 9 1 1 if heat stroke or exhaustion is suspected.

* EXPIRES… {Expiration time}.

A lesson in rewriting emergency alerts

Since we just published our take on how to write emergency alerts, we thought we could use an alert we just got from NYAlerts to suggest ways to improve your alert writing skills.

Below are three versions of the alert: (1) the original text; (2) our re-write, using the format provided by the alert, since it appears to be pre-formatted to those 6 elements: headline, description, locations, timing, impacts and instructions, and (3) our re-write, using the guidelines from Professor Mileti.

The amount of detail you want to include and what description will be most helpful are obviously judgment calls and local knowledge is key.  But we like our versions better for a few reasons:

  1. Less ambiguity. What is “early this evening?”  If 8PM is clear, why not stick with that?  What’s the difference between a “dangerous area” and any other structure?  Isn’t the issue here that any structure is a risk because a wave can cause a swimmer to collide with it?
  2. Less formal language. Why a “Beach Hazards Statement” instead of just “Hazardous Beach Conditions?” In fact, with a little more time, we might try to simplify that phrase.  How about “Unsafe Beaches?”
  3. Active, rather than passive verbs.  You learned this in school.  “Remains in effect” is passive.  Actually, we just took out the verb in the 2nd re-write.
  4. Shorter. On a word count basis, we saved 10 words, which is more than 10%.  It’s just easier to read.

 

Actual Alert

* HEADLINE: Beach Hazards Statement issued June 14 at 10:30AM EDT until June 14 at 8:00PM EDT by NWS Buffalo

* DESCRIPTION: …BEACH HAZARDS STATEMENT REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING…

* LOCATIONS…Beaches of Niagara, Orleans, Monroe, and Wayne counties.

* TIMING…Through early this evening.

* IMPACTS…Strong currents and dangerous swimming conditions.

INSTRUCTIONS: A Beach Hazards Statement is issued when there is a high swim risk. This means life threatening waves and currents are expected. Stay out of the water and stay away from dangerous areas like piers and breakwalls.

1st Re-Write

* HEADLINE: NWS Buffalo: Hazardous Beach Conditions from June 14 at 10:30AM EDT until June 14 at 8:00PM EDT

* DESCRIPTION: …HAZARDOUS BEACH CONDITIONS ARE IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING…

* IMPACTS…High risk of drowning. Life threatening waves and currents expected.

* LOCATIONS…Lake Ontario Beaches of Niagara, Orleans, Monroe, and Wayne counties, NY. From Niagara-on-the-Lake to Fair Haven.

* INSTRUCTIONS: …Stay out of the water and away from piers, breakwalls and other structures near the water’s edge.

* TIMING…Through 8PM tonight.

 

2nd Re-Write

* HEADLINE: NWS Buffalo: Hazardous Beach Conditions, June 14 from 10:30AM until 8:00PM (EDT).

* SOURCE: NWS Buffalo

* HAZARD: …LIFE THREATENING BEACH CONDITIONS UNTIL 8 PM THIS EVENING…High risk of drowning. Life threatening waves and currents expected.

* LOCATIONS…The southern shore of Lake Ontario including Niagara, Orleans, Monroe, and Wayne counties, NY. From Niagara-on-the-Lake to Fair Haven.

* GUIDANCE: …Stay out of the water and away from piers, breakwalls and other structures near the water’s edge. Do not swim.

* EXPIRATION…Through 8PM tonight.

Plan Ahead: Emergency Message Templates

In our recent post – “Best Practices in Emergency Notification: Severe Weather Alerts” – we talked a little about how to structure an emergency notification message. We’d like to expand on this topic.

According to Dr. Dennis Mileti, Professor Emeritus and former Director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, a successful warning message should include these five components (https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/159069):

  • Source: who the message is from;
  • Hazard: the threat and its impacts;
  • Location: the impact area boundaries described in a way that can be easily understood (for example: street names, landmarks, natural features and political boundaries);
  • Guidance (Protective Action)/Time: what protective action to take, when to do it, how to do it, and how doing it reduces impacts;
  • Expiration time: when the alert/warning expires and/or new information will be received.

Through our emergency notification experience, we’ve discovered that message style is also very important. A successful notification message should:

  • be brief but impactful: simple and straight to the point.
  • use simple language: avoid jargon and technical language. It must be easy to understand for all residents of your community regardless of their age and occupation.
  • include a picture and/or a source for more details or updates.

In contrast, sending out an inappropriate message could cause results that are completely opposite to what you intended.  Instead of helping people to avoid/escape an emergency, a badly worded message may create unnecessary panic or inaction.

To help insure a good message structure, it’s useful to have some ready templates that you can use as a starting point when writing a warning message. Which is why Hyper-Reach offers the ability to create saved message templates, and is improving that capability. Templates can not only save you time but also will serve as a good quality control practice, avoiding inconsistencies and mistakes.

Although current IPAWS/WEA messages are limited to 90 characters, it’s still possible to cover the most important information with IPAWS/WEA and supplement with other messaging methods. So if you have a modern Emergency Notification system such as Hyper-Reach in place, you can send out not only 90-character WEA messages but also more detailed text messages, emails, Facebook and Twitter posts.

Recent changes to FCC rules for WEA are also helpful.  For one, you can now include a URL in a WEA message, which allows for a link to a page with much more detail.  And the FCC has changed the rules about WEA message length – although they won’t take effect until next year – increasing to 360 characters.

Summarizing our recommendations above, we’ve prepared some efficient templates for 90-character WEA messages and 160-character SMS messages that you can use and model your own messages on.  You can download them here.

If you have other types of messages you’d like us to template, please let us know.  You can send your suggestions to jveilleux@ashergroup.com.

Don’t Overpay for Emergency Notification Services

We came across this announcement for the town of Smithers, British Columbia, in Canada, which honestly made our blood boil just a little.

Smithers is a small town of about 5,300 people. That means it has about 2,100 households and less than 1,700 of those households have a landline.  And the emergency notification provider they chose is charging them $7,500 per year.

We’re glad that the public safety folks in Smithers think that emergency notification services are worth more than $3 per household.  On that point, we agree.  But that’s a crazy high amount to be paying for such a small community.

In fact, we know of emergency notification companies that would charge between $2,000 – $3,000 per year for the same service.  And at least one of those companies would offer the same kinds of services, with messages delivered as voice messages to landline and cell phones, text messages, email, pager messages, Facebook and Twitter feeds, RSS feeds, and even Internet posts and more.  And that company would deliver those messages just as fast and possibly faster, just as reliably and possibly more reliably, thanks to their use of cloud-based computing services companies.  And – despite what the story says – the recipients of those messages would be able to respond to verify that they’d received the message.

Which makes us wonder what the citizens of Smithers are going to get for the extra $5,000 or so they’ll be paying each year for this service. And what they could do with that $5,000 if they’d found a less expensive service provider.

So, congratulations to the citizens of Smithers.  Emergency notification services are highly valuable.  And well worth the money you’ll be paying.  But when it comes time to renew your contract, shop around a bit.  We think you can get a much better deal.

 

 

National Police Day

 

This week is National Police Week. Beginning in 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Police Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls – National Police Week.

It’s dedicated to honor those officers that have fallen in the line of duty and to remind us what hard and dangerous work law enforcement professionals are facing every day while serving their communities. This year 30,000-40,000 people are expected to attend the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC. (The complete schedule of events is here: http://www.nleomf.org/programs/policeweek/).

Craig Floyd, CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, said “The tragic deaths … (are) a stark reminder of the dangers our law enforcement professionals face each and every day while protecting and serving our communities. Too often, their service and sacrifice are taken for granted.”  

So let’s not forget about the sacrifices these courageous people make for us.

Last year, 129 officers died in the line of duty, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund data (http://www.nleomf.org/facts/officer-fatalities-data/causes.html). Although that’s down 19% from 2016, we are still losing far too many of our brave men and women in blue. As of Monday, 53 officers have died in the line of duty across the country this year, an enormous loss for the American nation.

As an Emergency Notification Services vendor we recognize that the main concern of law enforcement professionals is the community they serve, which is an interest we share, since we are privileged to serve many of those communities. In keeping with National Police Week, we asked some of America’s finest to share their thoughts about National Law Enforcement Memorial taking place this week in Washington D.C. and about ways that Emergency Notification might be used to help protect the lives of their officers.

Here are some of their responses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We very much appreciate the comments above. Losing an officer is a tragic loss, not only to their family and colleagues but also to the community they served. To the extent that emergency notifications may help officers to avoid or decrease danger by spreading the word quickly among colleagues and community, we are glad to offer that service.

In conclusion, we’d like to express our deep gratitude to the members of law enforcement who daily put their lives on the line to protect and to serve their communities and uphold the fabric of society which makes up our great nation. We appreciate your courage and your commitment, we thank you for your willingness to serve and the sacrifices you make.  We share your sorrow and deep sense of loss for your fallen. Thank you!

P.S: We’d like to continue this conversation and expand on this article.  So if you have other thoughts about the memorial, the sacrifice of fallen officers and the risks you face every day serving your communities, please share those with us.  And we’d love to hear your thoughts about how emergency notification services can help you both serve your communities and minimize and respond to the dangers you face. If you’d like to share those thoughts, please drop us a line here.

 

Don’t be embarrassed by a bogus RFP

We’re working on some RFPs from a number of cities and counties and came across one that’s so heavily skewed toward a particular vendor, it inspired us to think about some principles that are worth considering if you work in procurement.  Although the examples are for mass emergency notification services, the lessons should apply to any RFP sent out by a government agency.  Because if you’re sending out an RFP the violates the guidelines below, I think you’re setting yourself up for trouble if other vendors complain to whoever you may be accountable to.

Quick note: we’re not going to file a complaint about this RFP.  If we’ve decided you don’t want our services, we just go find customers who do.

  1. Don’t list requirements you don’t understand.  There’s a requirement here to get a certification related to the “Safety Act”.  One of the criteria for that certification is that the technology is not widely released.  Since what we sell is used by thousands of cities and counties around the US, it’s pretty obvious that the technology is widely released and we’re not going to get that certification.  I doubt the RFP writer had any idea what they were asking for.
  2. Don’t list requirements that are irrelevant.  The city that issued this RFP has fewer than 20,000 people, which means fewer than 10,000 callable phones.  But they want proof that an emergency notification provider has previously placed 3 million calls in a 24 hour period.  That’s more than 300 times the capacity they are ever likely to require.  Do they really want to eliminate vendors that can only document, say, 1,000,000 calls in 24 hours?
  3. Don’t list requirements that are archaic.  This RFP requires a smartphone app running on Windows phones.  Now, since Microsoft has pretty much abandoned all three Windows phone operating systems developed over the last 10 years, this requirement raises all kinds of questions.  An obvious one would be this: “assuming you actually have some Windows phone users, wouldn’t it be cheaper just to get them to switch phones than pay the premium it will cost to limit yourself to one possible vendor?”
  4. Don’t use the “inside baseball” language.  There’s a line in this RFP that says vendors aren’t supposed to use “cascading calling methodology.”  Since there’s no definition of what that means, this kind of question accomplishes nothing.  Every vendor will simply respond the way they expect the customer wants the answer and the customer – who probably has no idea what the term means – is unlikely to challenge those answers.
  5. Design your requirements to address your REAL needs. Instead of getting caught up in obscure technicalities, specify requirements based on your objectives.  This RFP is full of technical details about a system that provides for communication between government agencies. It happens that most government agencies don’t actually use the system discussed, so all the details about how it works are so many words about nothing of consequence. Meanwhile, the RFP asks comparatively little on how a vendor will effectively get an emergency message in front of the largest number of citizens in an effective way.

Of course, if you’re required to send out an RFP and you really know who you want to choose, maybe these questions serve a valuable purpose.  After all, we’re not going to use our valuable time to respond to an RFP that’s obviously skewed to a particular vendor.  And if you’re the buyer, you’re not wasting your time going through the motions pretending that you’re actually comparing vendors fairly.  In many ways, sending out an RFP that pretends to be fair is actually worse for all involved, since it usually takes a lot of time to answer one of these.

If you really want to have some viable options and get the best deal for your agency, consider an outcome-focused RFP that’s based on your actual objectives.  In our case, we think that most buyers should want to reach as many of their citizens – and often, staff members –  as they can, as easily, quickly, reliably and effectively as they can. Requirements that are built around these specific goals tell us that you’re a serious buyer, worthy of our attention.

Thanks for letting me rant.  Now I’ve got to get back to answering the other RFP I have on my desk.

Best Practices in Emergency Notification: Severe Weather Alerts

Recent discussions around last year’s California wildfires caught our attention. (http://www.govtech.com/em/disaster/-Wildfires-Emphasize-Need-to-Improve-Emergency-Alert-Systems.html)

Back in October, the decision of local authorities not to send out a warning message using the IPAWS Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) may have cost many lives. Some local officials think that a statewide standard for severe weather alerts, similar to that for for Amber Alerts, could have solved the problem.

Although statewide guidance might be helpful, we think that local authorities may not want to wait for their state and might choose, instead, to develop their own local standards. Most severe weather emergencies are local and can even differ from one county to another. Local standards could help emergency responders to react faster by reducing the hesitation level – one of the delay factors in issuing a warning.

Below we highlight some recommendations that can help you to be more prepared when a severe weather emergency strikes:

  • Identify weather hazards that are most common for your area and create a response protocol for each of them.
  • Cooperate with neighboring counties and cities on creating the same standards for similar weather hazards. This will ease the coordination between affected territories when an emergency hits.
  • Identify triggers and set clear requirements – when exactly an emergency alert should be sent to residents. It might also be useful to classify weather emergencies by hazard level.
  • Determine people who would be responsible for sending out weather emergency alerts and make sure to organize training for them.
  • Create a detailed communication plan:
    • Identify what communication channels might be down during common weather emergencies and what channels are preferable to use. The more channels you use the better.
    • Create message templates for each of possible severe weather situation in your area. Pay particular attention to the message content.

According to Dr. Mileti, Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado Boulder, successful warning message should include these elements (https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/159069):

· Source
· Hazard
· Location Personalization
· Consequences
· Protective Action
· How action reduces Consequences
· Expiration Time

Here’s an example of such a message:

While this is a great example of such a notification, WEA messages are still  limited to 90 characters (a change to 360 characters has been adopted by the FCC but is not in effect yet.) So you can’t such a long message yet.

Here’s an example of approximating the same message across within the current 90 character limit:

Elm Cty Sheriff:Creek flooding from Maple-Hwy110,

Wood City.Drowning risk! Get out by 6PM!

While it’s less detailed, it still includes the most important information like source, hazard location and type, protective action to be taken and how quickly residents need to act.

Alternatively, we’ve recommended using two 90-character messages when the need is great.  So here’s that:

Elm Cty Sheriff: Elm Creek flooding 25+ ft,

both sides from Maple-Hwy 110 in Wood City.

Elm Cty Sheriff (ctd): Move 2+ blocks out by 6PM

or you will drown. Msg expires 11PM.

  • Predefine residents that might be at risk and create sending lists in advance. You can always adjust them.
  • Plan for upcoming changes to WEA messages so you’re ready to modify the protocols to take advantage of those.

Sonoma County local officials stated that the reason why Sonoma County decided not to send out emergency alerts in October was because their notification system can cover too wide area and they thought that sending alerts to every available cell phone in a county – rather than just those in a targeted evacuation zone – could cause unnecessary panic (http://www.govtech.com/em/disaster/-Wildfires-Emphasize-Need-to-Improve-Emergency-Alert-Systems.html).  Although that’s a valid concern, what the research suggests is that a broadcast WEA alert – especially with the “location personalization” described above, can be an important part of the process of getting people to act.

Because the FCC has changed the rules around WEA messages, you’ll be able to take advantage of these improvements within the next year or two:

  • 360 character messages that will allow for much more information;
  • A hyper-link that lets citizens click over to a webpage or map with more information;
  • Better targeting of messages – with requirements by the FCC that mobile carriers can subdivide their towers’ broadcast areas into more specific sub-sections.

Because of the changing nature of the mass notification landscape, you may have to revise your protocols over time. And if you start the process by creating a set of protocols you can use today, you’ll have a headstart on new technology as it becomes available.

Want to implement IPAWS for your community?  Contact us today. We can help you get started.

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Going Beyond Automated Weather Alerts

This article on new flood monitoring technology caught our eye for many reasons. It’s about cities in Virginia which are working on a system of water level and related monitors that are meant to provide an advanced warning system for flooding risk. The project – called StormSense – is part of a bigger project to develop new technologies that make cities more resilient and secure. Because of the many awards the StormSense project has received, we think it has strong possibilities for expansion beyond coastal Virginia.

There are a number of implications for emergency notification systems that we think are worth talking about:

  1. Although the alerts generated by this system are only going to emergency managers for now, this system may eventually be available for automated alerts, in much the same way that Hyper-Reach monitors National Weather Service warnings and sends out automated alerts to the affected areas. So, as this technology develops and spreads, we could have new inputs to more accurately warn citizens of hazards that may affect them.
  2. This technology leverages the Amazon cloud, and we think that’s important, since we’ve moved much of our infrastructure to AWS’ platform. As we’ve talked about before, there are enormous scalability, reliability and cost advantages to using the cloud for computing and communication technologies of all kinds. Which is why we’re moving much of Hyper-Reach to cloud computing platforms.
  3. While this technology is specifically about floods, there are many more potential sources of automated inputs to emergency notification systems. For example, there was this story the other day about sensors that can recognize the sound of gunfire, determine its location and even the caliber of the weapon and lock down a school. Although the article didn’t mention emergency alerts, that’s an obvious potential application. As artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IOT) expands, we can expect to see many more opportunities to generate alerts to warn the public that require little or no human intervention. It may sound like science fiction now, but in 10 or 20 years these ideas may seem commonplace.

As these – and related – technologies develop, you can count on Hyper-Reach to keep an eye out for their availability and usefulness for emergency notification purposes. After all, we were one of the first to offer automated weather alerts.

Best Practices in Emergency Notification: Missing Person Alerts

Every second counts when a vulnerable person is missing and any information that can help the investigation is potentially invaluable. So getting the word out about a missing person can be vitally important.

Using data from 2016, there were over 88,000 missing person cases in the United States, with almost 40% of those being children under the age of 18.

Fortunately, modern Emergency Notification Systems (ENS) allow law enforcement agencies to use multiple communication methods – including social media – to greatly increase the chances of locating a missing person. There are many examples of residents’ quick response to alert messages helping find a missing person within a few hours.

To get the maximum benefit from an emergency alert system, consider these recommendations when sending out the missing person alert:

  1. Get as many citizens enrolled in the ENS as possible. While this counts mostly BEFORE you send out a message, you can also use the current emergency to give citizens a reason to sign up. Let your community know there’s an Emergency Notification System in place and that it will be used for emergency situations. Your current emergency is a good example of how the ENS system will be used. Add a message telling folks to sign up as part of your messaging about the emergency.
  2. Your message should be brief but impactful. Provide accurate physical characteristics and some valuable details that can help locate a missing person (for example, the last place a missing person was seen). Also, add a link for more information and make sure to include a contact number where citizens can call in case they have information to report. A good Emergency Notification System such as Hyper-Reach also allows you to attach the picture of a missing person to help to find them even faster.
  3. Send a missing person alert message via multiple channels including social media and WEA, when appropriate. This will help to fill in the gaps in contact lists since landlines are only present in 40%-50% of households. You can use Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA, part of IPAWS) when there is significant risk to life.  (Note that Amber Alerts will typically be sent by WEA). Also, get help from a local media to spread the word.
  4. Avoid sending out a missing person alert during late night hours. Experience shows that citizens will be irritated if you wake them up with a missing person alert in the middle of the night. And the odds of getting help from the general public at 3 AM are pretty slim. If you have to send an alert in the middle of the night, make the distribution of that alert as small as possible (Hyper-Reach allows you to limit your distribution to areas as small as individual street segments or even a set of specific addresses). Then send out a broader alert to arrive first thing in the morning.  Modern systems – including Hyper-Reach – have the ability to schedule a message to be sent on a specific date and time.

Emergency notification systems have proven to be a powerful tool for locating missing persons. Thanks to the different communication methods that can be accessed at one time, ENS use significantly increases the chances of finding a missing person. We hope that our recommendations will help you to use your emergency notification system more fully and effectively. And if you do not yet have such a system, we would be glad to show you the benefits of adding ENS to your emergency response toolkit.

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Why Cloud Deployment Levels the Playing Field for Mass Emergency Notification

The days of paying too much for emergency notification are at an end.  And the reason is simple: the cloud.

Many emergency managers and others who buy emergency notification systems (ENS) are under the impression that the size of the ENS company is important.  There’s a logic to that position that seems to make sense.  After all, a bigger company can send out more messages in a shorter period of time, right?

Wrong.  While that logic may have worked 10 years ago, it’s way out of date today.  And the reason is simple: the cloud.

By “the cloud”, we mean cloud computing companies, such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others.  These companies are now providing massive computing power that is very inexpensive, highly reliable, easily scaled to near-infinite capacity, amazingly flexible and highly interconnected with telecom and internet service providers.

Consider this: the largest ENS provider has a total annual revenue of just over $100 million dollars, while Google alone invested over $30 billion dollars on cloud computing technology in just one year.  And Google is playing catch-up to Amazon.

And all that investment isn’t just for hardware.  Much of it goes to software that automates the failover, security and configuration processes that allow its customers to rely on its highly reliable services.  Amazon boasts over 30 security certifications and offers a super-secure version of its AWS services that’s good enough for the Pentagon.  And in this area, it’s probably playing catch-up to Microsoft.

In fact, one of the great aspects of the cloud computing business for us, and many other IT companies, is the aggressive competition among them, because it means that their services are constantly improving while their prices actually go down.

The implications for emergency notification services are profound.  While Hyper-Reach is a relatively small provider of ENS services, we can actually scale to exactly the same capacity as our very largest competitors.  With the same, or better, reliability.  And the same, or better, security. (More on these points later.)

So before you agree to pay a premium of 30%, 40%, 50% or more for the supposed security of a larger company, look for ENS companies that leverage the power of cloud computing in delivering their services.  (The same logic, BTW, applies to other technologies.) We think you’ll be amazed at how much value you can get – not to mention personal service – while paying less for your ENS system.