Alerts & Warnings 101

Who remembers CONELRAD?

On March 19, 2013, in Alerts & Warnings 101, Emergency Alert System, Social Media, by with Altus Emergency Management

Yes, the image above has two triangles. Otherwise known as “Civil Defense” symbols, they are images of the Cold War.

CONELRAD: Radio meets the Civil Defense describes the two radio channels folks would tune to listen for news and updates in the “event of an actual emergency”.

CONELRAD became the Emergency Alert System and the triangles on the AM radios on the dash of the automobiles became Cold War Relics.

That was then and this is now. Has it improved?  Today, there is competition for the message. The emergency manager is challenged with getting the word out to folks listening to their MP3 player inside a house with the windows shut and the vacuum running.

No longer does the emergency manager have two frequencies upon which to place his warning message. The emergency manager must be aware of ALL the methods is customer uses to get news and information and, yes, even entertainment.

When the emergency manager hears that the customer wants him to be on Social Media, which one of them should he use? Does he dare omit Twitter to favor Google+? Does he simply say “I’m on Facebook. If you want the message, tune there.”?

This is why warning professionals encourage folks to have THREE ways to get information. At any given time, all three will be working or two may not.

What three are you using?

 

Are you really getting the message?

On January 2, 2013, in Alerts & Warnings 101, Social Media, by with Altus Emergency Management

James Spann, a popular Alabama meteorologist and member of the popular online program “WeatherBrains“, posted recently about the popular social media site Facebook — and its shortcomings in the severe weather alerting process.

He has noted how the warning processes must get better.  At one point, he called for every outdoor warning device (the “tornado” siren) to be burned.  He notes that too many people rely on sirens before taking action.

People need THREE ways to get weather warnings.

There are at least two providers – MyStateUSA and EmergencyEmail.org offer nationwide alerting service for free. Additionally, providers such as cel.ly offer the ability for groups to set up their own warning processes, as Craig’s Tech Blog discussed a few months back.

However, I have written on AWARE (here and here) that we should recognize and accept that social media (as anything technological) will have flaws.  In other words, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, have all gone down at one point or another.  Even sirens break.

More than one avenue for warnings is necessary. Three ways of getting severe weather warnings is the only option for the prepared citizen.  Social media, even Facebook, can serve in this area, of course. Even the trusty Amateur Radio can come to play here.

What are your three ways to get severe weather warnings?  Is the All-Hazards Weather Radio one of them?

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Last week I wrote about the basics of peer-to-peer alerting for mobile devices and how peer networks might facilitate the dissemination of alerts.  I also published Peer-to-Peer Alert Systems Part II that provided the several examples of mesh networks.  In this article, I wrap up the discussion by presenting examples of star networks as well as combined mesh/star networks. Continue reading »

 

This is the second of three articles exploring peer-to-peer communications and how these technologies could impact the timeliness and relevance of emergency alerting.

Last week I wrote about the basics of peer-to-peer alerting for mobile devices and how peer networks might facilitate the dissemination of alerts.  In this article I provide several examples of technologies that demonstrate the first of two types of peer networks called “mesh” networks.

To recap from Part I:  in a mesh network all devices that have some kind of peer relationship, talk to each other, and co-exist as equal peers.  As devices move out of the network and form new ones with new peers, information is continually shared.  Continue reading »

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This is the first of three articles exploring peer-to-peer communications and how these technologies could impact the timeliness and relevance of emergency alerting.

Mother Nature often provides terrific insight when looking for inspiration and innovation.  The invention of VELCRO is a perfect example.  When we search for improvements to alert dissemination, we need look no further than the 22,000 species of ants that traverse our planet.

The first lesson we can learn is that ants rely on more than one method for notifying each other of new sources of food or imminent threats.  As we look more closely at our own systems it may help to examine alerting methods where ants are more successful than we are.  The second lesson we can learn is that ants require no more infrastructure than what they already have on their bodies–a very efficient use of resources. Continue reading »

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