With the Republican and Democratic National Conventions getting ready to kickoff, local emergency managers are prepared to issue their own type of “presidential” alerts in Tampa Bay and Charlotte. Anticipating big influxes of convention goers and media, both cities are using their local opt-in alerting systems to send not only emergency messages, but also convention-related notifications to residents and visitors.
Tampa Bay, Florida, which will host the Republican National Convention (RNC) August 27-30, 2012 is expecting an influx of about 45,000 attendees. As part of its planning efforts, the city’s RNC call center is already up and running, and emergency managers are encouraging residents, businesses, and visitors to sign up for Alert Tampa to receive notifications by email, mobile device or land-line phone related to road closures, City of Tampa service changes, and critical threats. Subscribers will also receive weather alerts which will be crucial as weather forecasters monitor the progress of a Tropical Storm Isaac which could become a hurricane just in time for the convention.
Meanwhile, Charlotte, North Carolina, is making similar preparations as it anticipates about 35,000 visitors for the Democratic National Convention (DNC),which will take place September 3-6, 2012. Charlotte’s alert system, which provides emergency notifications to subscribers either via text or email, will also provide convention-related events such as parking, accidents, and parade routes.
Security and emergency preparedness are on the tip of everyone’s tongue in the run-up to an event like a national party convention. This is only natural, given the influx of national leaders and media attention. These cities are leveraging their subscription-based alert services to issues notifications about event logistics. These services can work well for these types of alerts, because by and large, these notifications require the subscriber to opt in, allowing them choice over what messages they receive. On the other hand, originators may not choose to use a system like the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) for such a purpose, as mobile devices are typically opted into the system unless the user decides not to receive them. A system like this is, which potentially hits a greater number of people, would be more appropriate for more urgent and severe scenarios. It goes to show that these systems are each “tools in the toolbox” for emergency managers.