Are Government Mandates the Solution to Alert Registration?

Local officials in Kennett Square, PA have a new idea for how to solve the problem of folks not registered for emergency alerts.  They’re suggesting that registration be mandated by law.

According to this article, the borough council president there  is proposing that “officials mandate all residents of the borough sign up for emergency notifications”.  It’s an interesting idea, but it raises a lot of issues.  For example:

1) Privacy.  Many folks will object to requiring giving up the personal information.  That concern is probably overblown, but it’s a political problem. 

2) Enforcement.  How will officials know if someone is NOT registered?  Homeowners may be easy to find, but most municipalities don’t have a list of non-homeowners they can easily turn to.

3) Garbage data.  If someone wants to stay off the radar, they could register a bogus number.  They’d show up as “registered”, but with no beneficial effect.

4) Language issues.  According to Wikipedia, about 40% of the town is hispanic, but the registration form is only available in English.

This requirement is somewhat similar to that of the requirement for smoke and CO2 detectors, but there are some important differences.  For one, the building inspection process means that homes will be checked when they are sold.  And landlords might be responsible for insuring detectors in apartments.

We think it’s fantastic that a town cares enough that it would want to require folks to sign up for emergency alerts.  But perhaps local officials should start with a registration campaign – in English and in Spanish – and use a government mandate as a last resort.




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