This story from Urgent Communications profiles how Dallas used their Mass Emergency Notification System (MENS) to help in their education efforts during the time that Thomas Eric Duncan and two nurses were diagnosed with the Ebola virus.
What the article makes clear is that the longest time spent in sending the messages was in deciding what to send – both in the way of content and also in terms of the frequency of messaging.
Like Hyper-Reach, the Dallas system uses landline phone numbers from the 911 database, combined with self-registration data to capture cellphones and email addresses. Numbers to be called can be selected by geography (our system uses Google Maps, which we consider to be a big benefit, since it’s so familiar and easy to use.)
We’ve talked to public health workers about the use of emergency alert systems like Hyper-Reach for alerts about disease outbreaks and other public health risks and they agree these systems can be useful. We also think it’s important to consider the use of IPAWS and WEA messages when there’s a real crisis. WEA messages don’t depend on registration, so they reach every WEA-equipped cellphone (which is most of them) within a selected geography.
So we’re encouraging our clients – and all public safety folks – to think about how they would use Hyper-Reach or systems like it in a public health emergency like a disease outbreak. And let us know if we can help.