Domestic preparedness – New York City Unveils First-In-The-Nation Public Safety System

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Domestic preparedness

HEADLINE: New York City Unveils First-In-The-Nation Public Safety System

SUMMARY: New York City and federal government officials unveiled a new system this week that will allow customers with an enabled mobile device to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. The Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN) ensures that emergency alerts will not get stalled by user congestion, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services. Authorized government officials can send messages, which participating wireless providers then push using their cell towers to enabled mobile devices in the area.

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ANALYSIS: by Jim Satterfield, Firestorm President/COO

Early warning of disasters is critical. This program has excellent potential and potentially unintended consequences. We have seen alerts prior to hurricanes to warn the public. In many areas we have tornado sirens to warn. In office buildings, homes, and cars we have alarms to be a call to action.

Yet, many people don’t act. Why? Is it that they don’t know what to do? Or is it that they don’t believe the message? Or don’t process the urgency?

The world has changed. The way we process information is different. Having alerts go out quickly via email and text is an advantage. To be effective, the messages must be clear, targeted, and actionable. After a full vulnerability and threat assessment to identify potential risks, message maps must be created. These message maps can be edited as warranted at the time of need.

Like any plan, training and exercises are critical to make sure these messages work. Without appropriate actions by the people receiving the messages, they are wasted.

Every business should put a crisis communications plan in place. Social media is a great tool. Most organizations do not know how to use it before, during, or after a crisis. Are you ready? You cannot wait until the crisis to develop a communications plan and expect your message to be heard and acted on. Everyone has access. Controlling others’ messages is impossible.

The Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN) has potential. What are you doing in your company? Studies show 70 percent of employees don’t know what to do in a disaster or crisis. 95 percent don’t have a plan at home.

Question: What are you doing in your company?

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