Feature of the Month: Citizen Registration by Phone

Did you know that only Hyper-Reach provides a way for residents to sign up for emergency alerts by calling in and answering a few questions? At no additional charge to you?

Telephone sign ups are a great way to get older folks and others with limited internet access to sign up for emergency alerts.  They just pick up the phone, call a dedicated number for your community signups, and answer with their name and address, plus a few additional optional items. The process is super-quick, easy and doesn’t require a smartphone or computer. 

In article 1, we noted that FEMA considers older adults a key target for emergency preparedness, so having a tool that works especially well for them is a great idea. 

We quality-check every call to ensure we get the right name and address, so you can be confident that the signup process is accurate. 

And because it’s easy and accessible to almost anyone, you’ll get more citizens registered and be able to reach more people when you need to!

An Alert Solution: Preventing School Shootings Through Emergency Alerts

In recent years, the disturbing trend of school shootings has become a haunting reality. These violent acts of aggression not only cause immeasurable grief and trauma but also create an environment of fear and insecurity within the educational institutions, disrupting the mission of learning. Recognizing this ongoing challenge, experts have proposed numerous strategies to combat and prevent these tragic incidents. One method involves the use of emergency alert systems. This article explores how a well-structured emergency alert system can play a significant role in preventing school shootings.

Understanding Emergency Alert Systems

An emergency alert system is a comprehensive communication setup designed to provide immediate and timely information during emergencies. It incorporates various technological tools and platforms, including emails, text messages, automated phone calls, and dedicated apps, to distribute critical alerts and instructions. These systems are already in use in various sectors, from weather alerts to evacuation notices during natural disasters.

Role in School Shootings

In the context of school shootings, an emergency alert system can serve several essential functions, including early warning, real-time updates, post-incident guidance, and coordination between emergency services.

  • Early Warning: If a threat is detected – whether from an explicit warning or suspicious behavior – an alert can be immediately issued to all individuals in the school. With an early warning of a potential threat, students and staff can take immediate action to protect themselves, often before the situation escalates.
  • Real-Time Updates: During an active shooter situation, information is critical. A dynamic alert system can provide real-time updates, directing individuals away from the danger, informing them of secure locations, or advising them when it is safe to evacuate.
  • Post-Incident Guidance: Even after a shooter has been neutralized, confusion and fear can persist. Emergency alerts can provide post-incident guidance, including where to gather, where to find medical help, and when it is safe to leave the premises.
  • Coordination with Emergency Services: A well-integrated emergency alert system can also allow for seamless coordination with law enforcement and medical services, expediting response times and ensuring efficient handling of the situation.

Preventing School Shootings

Prevention of school shootings is paramount, and emergency alert systems can play a crucial role in this aspect. For instance, some advanced alert systems incorporate predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms that analyze patterns in data, such as online behavior, to identify potential threats. When a risk is detected, the system can send an immediate alert to the relevant authorities for further investigation.

Additionally, a well-implemented alert system can create an environment of safety and preparedness. Regular drills using the system can teach students and staff how to respond in an emergency, which can help mitigate panic and confusion during a real incident.

Finally, the presence of such a system can also act as a deterrent to potential shooters. Knowing that the school has a robust emergency response plan could discourage them from attempting an attack in the first place.


While emergency alert systems won’t solve school shootings by themselves, they represent a powerful tool in the effort to protect students and staff from such horrific events. By providing real-time information and facilitating rapid response, these systems can save lives and reduce the impact of such incidents. Furthermore, with the continuous advancement in technology, their potential for prevention and protection will only grow. It is incumbent on school administrators and policymakers to prioritize the implementation of these systems, as a critical component of a broader strategy to prevent school shootings.

Can AI Predict Natural Disasters?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has rapidly emerged as a game-changer across various fields, transforming the way we work, live, and interact with technology. Its impact is already significant and continues to expand into key areas like automation and robotics, healthcare, finance, education, and now, even weather and natural disaster forecasting.

Numerous US authorities and organizations are actively exploring the use of AI to predict natural disasters. Among these entities are NOAA, FEMA, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), NASA, and IBM’s The Weather Company. The growing interest in AI from such influential organizations reflects the recognition of its vital role in improving natural disaster forecasting. And the rationale is evident. AI excels at analyzing vast amounts of data from diverse sources, identifying patterns and trends that may indicate the likelihood of specific events, and significantly accelerating data processing.

Here are some ways AI can be used in predicting and responding to natural disasters:

  1. Data analysis: AI can process data from satellites, weather stations, sensors, and other sources to monitor environmental changes and detect anomalies that may indicate the potential for a natural disaster.
  2. Machine learning models and predictive analytics: AI can use machine learning algorithms to learn from historical data about past disasters and their contributing factors and make predictions about future events based on similar patterns. This includes:
    • processing data from sensor networks deployed in disaster-prone areas to detect changes in environmental conditions and predict potential disasters;
    • analyzing satellite images and detecting changes in landscapes that may indicate impending disasters, such as wildfires, floods, or landslides;
    • analyzing seismic data and detecting patterns that may indicate an impending earthquake;
    • analyzing data from buoys, ocean sensors, and weather monitoring stations to predict events like hurricanes, storm surges, and tsunamis.
  3. Early warning systems: AI-powered early warning systems can send alerts to communities at risk, allowing them to take preventive measures and evacuate if necessary, minimizing the impact of disasters.
  4. Social media analysis: AI can monitor social media platforms for real-time information and user-generated content about potential disasters, helping authorities respond more effectively.
  5. Simulation and modeling: AI can be used to create complex simulations and models that simulate different disaster scenarios, helping researchers and authorities understand potential outcomes and plan accordingly.

Many AI systems have demonstrated a high degree of accuracy. For instance, Google’s DeepMind, developed a machine learning model that outperformed traditional methods in predicting rainfall up to six hours in advance. In another example, researchers at Harvard developed an AI that can accurately predict earthquake aftershocks, potentially saving lives by providing early warnings.  AI can help predict the likelihood of wildfires by using data on weather conditions, vegetation, and historical fire patterns, and can help fire departments allocate resources more effectively and even predict the path a wildfire might take once it has started. 

According to the Washington Post, NOAA estimates the cost of the most extreme weather and climate disasters impacting the United States during the past seven years at more than $1 trillion. and resource consumption, and preserving ecosystem services and biodiversity. A study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, estimated that the potential annual net benefits of improved forecasts and early warning systems for four types of hazards (tornadoes, hurricanes, inland flooding, and coastal flooding) could range from $511 million to $3.3 billion.

Despite the advantages of AI, there are challenges and limitations to what AI can do:

  1. Data Availability: In some regions, data collection infrastructure may be limited, reducing the effectiveness of AI models, which require large and diverse datasets to make accurate predictions. 
  2. Model Complexity: Some AI models used for predicting natural disasters are computationally intensive and require substantial computing resources. Deploying and maintaining such models can be a challenge, especially in resource-constrained environments.
  3. Interpretability: Some AI models can be difficult to interpret, making it challenging to understand the reasoning behind specific predictions. This lack of transparency can raise concerns, especially in critical decision-making processes.

While AI can augment decision-making, human expertise and domain knowledge remain crucial in understanding the context and nuances of natural disaster predictions.

Predicting natural disasters remains a challenging task, and no method, including AI, can offer perfect predictions. Nevertheless, AI can enhance prediction accuracy and speed in specific cases. When combined with traditional forecasting tools and the expertise of meteorologists, geologists, and disaster response professionals, AI has the potential to significantly improve disaster preparedness and response efforts.

Moreover, AI can’t predict sudden, unexpected changes in conditions, such as a sudden volcanic eruption or an earthquake triggered by unknown factors. These uncertainties underscore the need for human oversight and the integration of AI predictions with other forecasting methods.

AI technology will continue to advance and more data will become available, so we can anticipate further progress in predicting natural disasters. Many people believe that AI will bring about several transformative changes in natural disaster prediction and public notifications. 

Here are some ways AI is likely to revolutionize natural disaster prediction:

  1. Enhanced Data Processing: AI will continue to excel in processing vast amounts of data from diverse sources, including satellites, sensors, weather stations, and social media. This capability will lead to more comprehensive and up-to-date information, allowing for more accurate predictions.
  2. Improved Early Warning Systems: AI-powered early warning systems will become even more effective in providing timely alerts to communities at risk. By analyzing real-time data, AI can rapidly detect the onset of natural disasters and issue warnings, giving people more time to prepare and evacuate safely.
  3. Higher Prediction Accuracy: As AI algorithms and machine learning models evolve, they will become better at identifying patterns and trends in historical data. This will lead to improved prediction accuracy for all kinds of disasters.
  4. Integration of Emerging Technologies: AI will likely be integrated with other technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices and drones, to gather real-time data and provide more comprehensive situational awareness during disaster events.
  5. AI-based Simulation and Modeling: Advanced AI-driven simulation and modeling will help researchers and emergency planners simulate various disaster scenarios. This will enable better understanding of potential outcomes and aid in devising more effective disaster response strategies.
  6. Dynamic Risk Mapping: AI will enable dynamic risk mapping that adapts in real-time as disasters unfold and new data becomes available. This will let authorities adjust response plans as the situation changes, improving overall effectiveness.
  7. Automated Damage Assessment: AI will play a significant role in post-disaster damage assessment. By analyzing satellite imagery and drone data, AI can rapidly assess the extent of damage to infrastructure, helping prioritize response efforts.
  8. Personalized Alerts and Communication: AI-driven personalized alerts can be tailored to individual needs, so the right information reaches the right people at the right time. This will mitigate information overload and improve emergency response coordination.
  9. More Reliable Predictions for Rare Events: With improved algorithms and data analysis, AI will be better equipped to predict rare and extreme events, such as tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, which are notoriously difficult to forecast accurately.
  10. Global Collaboration and Data Sharing: AI will facilitate global collaboration among experts and response teams. It will enable cross-border data sharing and analysis, leading to more comprehensive disaster prediction and preparedness.

It’s essential to acknowledge that while AI offers tremendous potential for advancing natural disaster prediction, there are challenges that must be addressed. These challenges include data privacy, the interpretability of AI models, and ensuring equitable access to AI-driven technologies. Responsible and ethical deployment of AI will be crucial in maximizing its benefits to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and protect communities worldwide.

And it’s important to note that AI predictions are not and will probably never be infallible. They depend on the availability and quality of data, and even with the best models, natural disasters often involve elements of randomness and uncertainty that can’t be completely accounted for. Therefore, while AI tools can greatly assist in predicting natural disasters, they should be used as part of a comprehensive disaster management strategy, not as a standalone solution.

The Most Important Issues in Emergency Preparedness, According to AI

We asked the AI engines what the most important issue was in emergency preparedness.  While none of them gave us the same answer, most of them focused on communication as especially important. We agree. Here are their answers by source:


“Emergency preparedness is a multi-faceted discipline that addresses a range of potential crises, from natural disasters to man-made events. The “most important” issue can vary based on regional vulnerabilities, current events, and individual perspectives. However, several fundamental issues are paramount in emergency preparedness:

  • Risk Assessment and Understanding: Which events are most likely to occur in a given area. 
  • Communication: Ensuring that timely and accurate information reaches all affected populations.
  • Public Education and Training: Educating the general public on basic preparedness steps, like creating emergency kits or making evacuation plans, as well as specific groups on their particular needs.
  • Resource Allocation: Agencies must have the necessary resources—human, financial, and material—to respond to emergencies. This includes medical supplies, food, water, and shelter resources.
  • Interagency Cooperation and Coordination: Emergencies often require a coordinated response from multiple agencies, including local, state, and federal entities. 
  • Infrastructure Resilience: Ensuring that critical infrastructure, like power grids, transportation networks, and healthcare facilities, can withstand or quickly recover from disasters is crucial.
  • Evacuation Plans: Well-communicated routes and destinations are vital when evacuation is a requirement.
  • Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP): Businesses, government agencies, and other entities need plans to ensure they can continue essential functions during and after a disaster.
  • Regular Drills and Simulations: Regularly practicing emergency plans through drills and simulated exercises ensures that gaps and weaknesses are identified and addressed.
  • Recovery and Rehabilitation: Planning for the post-disaster phase is vital. This involves rebuilding, providing long-term medical care, and addressing psychological trauma.

While all of these are critically important, if forced to pick the “most important,” many experts might lean towards communication. Effective communication underpins all other elements of emergency preparedness and response. Without it, risk assessments can’t be acted upon, resources may not be allocated properly, and the public won’t know how to protect themselves.


There are many issues in emergency preparedness that are important and challenging, but based on the web search results, one of the most pressing ones right now is addressing the gaps in the nation’s emergency management capabilities across all levels of government. According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), FEMA has not determined how to close these gaps, which include areas such as disaster housing, cybersecurity, and climate resilience. The report also found that FEMA has not assessed the federal government’s own capabilities to respond to and recover from disasters, and has not prioritized the use of preparedness grants to address the known gaps. The GAO recommended that FEMA take several actions to improve the national preparedness system and ensure that the nation is ready for any potential hazards.

Another issue that is related to emergency preparedness is ensuring that vulnerable populations, such as older adults, are adequately protected and supported during disasters. FEMA has announced that its 2023 National Preparedness Month campaign will focus on preparing older adults for disaster, especially those from communities that are disproportionately impacted by disasters. Older adults face unique challenges and risks during emergencies, such as mobility issues, chronic health conditions, and social isolation. 


Here are a few of the most important issues in emergency preparedness:

  • Climate change – More extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods, and wildfires are requiring better preparedness plans and infrastructure. Planning for disasters that may be worse than historical events is crucial.
  • Aging infrastructure – Much of the infrastructure for emergency response like dams, levees, and power grids are aging. Upgrading and strengthening these systems is an urgent need to be able to withstand disasters.
  • Cybersecurity threats – Essential systems like power grids and communications networks are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Hardening these systems and having backup plans is critical.
  • Supply chain weaknesses – Recent disasters have revealed problems with supply chains for essential goods like food, water, fuel, and medical supplies. Diversifying sources and storage of key items can improve resilience.
  • Pandemic risks – COVID-19 demonstrated gaps in pandemic preparedness on a global scale. Planning and infrastructure for test kits, protective equipment, medical facilities, vaccines, public communication, etc. needs improvement.
  • Inequality in impacts – Disadvantaged communities often are disproportionately impacted by disasters. More focus is needed on assisting vulnerable populations before, during and after emergencies.
  • Public awareness/engagement – Educating and involving the public in preparedness, such as having emergency kits and plans, improves community response capacity. More work is needed to motivate and enable families to be ready.


The most important issue in emergency preparedness right now is effective communication. In the event of a disaster, it is critical that emergency responders and the public be able to communicate effectively with each other. This is especially important in large-scale disasters, when communication systems may be overwhelmed or damaged.

There are a number of challenges to effective communication in emergencies, including:

  • Disruption of communication infrastructure. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods can damage communication infrastructure, such as cell towers and power lines, making it difficult for people to communicate.
  • Language barriers. It’s important to have communication plans in place that can reach people who speak different languages. This is especially important in areas with large immigrant populations.
  • Information overload. In the event of a disaster, people may be bombarded with information from many sources, including news media, social media, and government agencies. This can make it difficult to find accurate and reliable information.

To address these challenges, emergency planners need to develop communication plans that are:

  • Redundant. There should be multiple ways for people to communicate, in case one communication channel is disrupted.
  • Multilingual. Communication plans should be translated into multiple languages.
  • Fact-checked. Emergency planners should work with news media and social media platforms to ensure that accurate and reliable information is being shared.

By addressing these challenges, emergency planners can help to ensure that effective communication is possible in the event of a disaster. This will help to save lives and reduce the impact of disasters on communities.