Asher Group Announces Hyper-Reach Express Grants for IPAWS/CMAS Emergency Notification System

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The Asher Group, a leading developer of emergency mass notification systems, is offering ten grants for a full year of CMAS/IPAWS message origination service.

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In December 2011, a new  emergency notification system called CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alert System) was released by the federal government as part of the new IPAWS system.  Now 911 centers and police in every state can broadcast emergency text messages to anyone within range of selected cell phone towers.   But despite the low cost of the system, adoption was been slow, so far reaching less than 1% of the potential agencies eligible to use the system.

To speed adoption and improve the system, the Asher Group is offering grants of free CMAS/IPAWS origination service throughout 2013, starting in February.  One applicant will be selected in each of the 10 FEMA regions.  To support research in the use of CMAS, participants will be expected to report on their use of the system so that Asher can analyze when agencies choose to use IPAWS and when they use other notification systems.

In addition to free service, participants will receive extra training and support and get special briefings on the study’s progress and final results.

Police, 911 and other emergency management agencies throughout the US are encouraged to apply for these grants by January 31, 2013.  All levels of government are potentially eligible, including towns and cities, counties, regional agencies, states, tribal governments, and cooperative groups of governments that share resources.  Winners will be selected and announced by February 20.

Interested emergency response offices can find an application for the grant at www.surveymonkey.com.  Deadline for application is January 31, 2013.  A complete description of the grant program, including requirements, selection criteria and the service provided to grantees at the grant application site. Questions can be directed to grants@ashergroup.com

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Residents Question Evacuation Order

Published: 10/30 3:54 pm

Hilton, N.Y. – Some lakefront residents questioned why a mandatory evacuation order was issued in the middle of the Sandy-related storm that swept through the Rochester region Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Monroe County issued the order to 2,200 residents Monday at 8 p.m., several hours after the storm began. The order was lifted at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

On West Wautoma Beach Road in Hamlin some residents left and others did not.

“My husband and I spent 20 minutes arguing about whether we were going to evacuate,” said Maggie Kelly.

“I was saying no, because if we really had to do it, we should have done it way before,” said Jonathan Kelly. “By that time the storm was almost in full effect.”

The couple ended up going to a friend’s house in Irondequoit.

“I figured why bother? I’ve been through worse than this down here so I was not leaving,” said 40-year resident Diane DeLosh, who noted the lake levels seemed low and she still had power. “There wasn’t anything that told me to get out – nothing.”

Chuck Lutwiller, who’s lived on the street for 58 years, slept through the robocall that notified the neighborhood of the evacuation order. Police knocked on his door after midnight.

“I says there’s no way I’m going to get in my car and go out of here,” said Lutwiller said. “So when he left I just went back in my house went back to bed…I figure it was like four or five hours late.”

“I don’t think it was late,” said County Executive Maggie Brooks. “We did three hyper-reach calls and the very first one strongly encouraged people to consider moving in with a friend, moving in with a relative.”

Brooks said her team spent a long time assessing the risk before issuing the order. It’s not clear if there was an additional threat that emerged later in the day.

“It’s not an exact science. Safety has to be the most important requirement. If we feel the safety of the public could be compromised in any way, we’re going to make that order,” Brooks said. “I would rather apologize for being overcautious than have to apologize or explain a death or an injury or something even more devastating, so I think we made the right call.”