The Value of Simplicity for Emergency Alerts

At Hyper-Reach, we often talk about how simple and easy our emergency alert system is for public safety people to use.

This story from Virginia Beach illustrates an important reason for keeping systems simple.  It seems that the Police Department sent out an emergency notification call to about 100,000 people that was only meant for 175.  And the message  – sent at 2AM – was about a road being re-opened after an accident.  That probably could have waited until folks were awake.

The article says that the public safety folks are reviewing training and policy, which is good.  We’d just make the point that training is easier when the system is easier to learn.

We proudly use Google Maps as the major component of our geographic selection process.  We do this because Google is a master at keeping things simple and accessible to as many people as possible and because most people are familiar with Google.  (It doesn’t hurt that Google invests an enormous amount of money into their database for Maps.)

We also allow clients to set time parameters for “normal” messages and then require that a message be marked “urgent” to be sent outside of those time settings.  This means that the default time for a message to go out can be set to be normal daylight hours and someone would need to deliberately choose to send a message at 2AM.

We put a lot of work into keeping the Hyper-Reach system easy to use, sometimes delaying the development of new features until we can come up with a design that doesn’t make the system too busy or difficult to learn.    We think that’s as important as having the latest features, because a system that’s too complex is also likely to make it difficult and unlikely for folks to actually use a feature.

So simplicity has many virtues.  It minimizes training time and cost, it improves the speed with which an emergency alert gets sent out, and it helps avoid mistakes.

So, if your emergency alert system is too complicated, give us a call at 1-855-2Notify (855-266-8439).