Below is a sampling of actual Twitter postings just from today (small edits for spelling and obscenity).
- Just got an emergency alert that nearly made me pee my bed. Not cool guys.
- that flash flood warning alert is scary
- Damn that flood alert scared the sh** out of me
- That emergency alert woke me up
We’re big proponents of Wireless Emergency Alerts, but we’re also concerned that the public actually appreciates these things. While there are some postings we’ve seen that are positive, most of tweets we’re seen so far are either neutral or negative. (A lot of them can be boiled down to “wow”.)
Twitter posts are hardly a representative sample of the US, but for the purposes of emergency notification they do reflect one of the most under-reached segments of the population: young adults. These are the exact people who are most likely to be “wireless only” (meaning they won’t have a landline at home), and the among the least likely to register for a local community’s emergency alert service. So WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts) are among the most best methods available to reach these folks.
And since local emergency and public safety agencies can sign up to send WEAs (ask us for information on this), they are a great adjunct tool to the classic mass notification tools, such as broadcast telephone calls.
But since a mobile phone user can turn off most of the alerts – if they choose – it might be good if the alert tones that the carriers pick were less unpleasant. The last thing we want is to see mass numbers of people turning WEA off.