It’s time to get serious about making alert registration easy

We just went through three recent news stories about emergency alerts.  All of them encouraged residents to sign up for their local alert service.  None of them made it easy.

Here are some of the problems we found:

  1. No clickable link.  In two cases the story just said to go to the county or city web page and find the link.  But these are online articles, so why not at least provide the URL or a hyper-link?
  2. No direct link.  Even if the reader found the county/city web page, that’s not the right address.  You almost always have to click a link on that page to get to the actual signup page.
  3. Hidden link on the city/county page.  Issues include non-obvious links and links that are off the screen when you open the page.  Scrolling down will get you there, but how many people miss that?
  4. Too many steps.  On one city’s page, we had to click on a link that took us to a page with a link to a PDF file where the actual sign up page link appeared.  And it wasn’t clickable either.

This is in addition to the issues a resident will run into when they actually get to the real signup page.

In an era where “wireless only” households are becoming predominant, it’s critical that communities and vendors get better at promoting their registration pages.  Otherwise, emergency notification services will become irrelevant.

This is one of the reasons we’re sponsoring the US National Emergency Alert Registry.  It’s one address that anyone can use.  And because USNEAR transfers the data to correct signup page, other issues (discussed elsewhere) are also managed.