“Did you just get that!?” Confirming emergency alerts once they are sent.

Regardless the channel and source of an emergency alert, people nearly always look to validate or confirm the information received. The alert could come across the television, the radio, social media, by phone, text or email, even mobile apps and in most cases, people will look to a separate channel to confirm and corroborate the alert. This typically means contacting someone or group they know and trust.

This confirmation effect in times of emergencies is a well studied and proven phenomenon and something that’ll likely never go away no matter how trusted the information source. This is why we don’t emphasize or promote one particular channel over another among the channels available in our public emergency alerting solution.

Each channel brings unique benefits, such as receiving alerts for where you are at any given moment through our mobile apps. Collectively, however, all channels complement one another and bring powerful benefits in regards to the confirmation effect. An alert received on the television, radio, phone, text or email can be confirmed through our alerting mobile apps, website or social channels. And vice-versa.

Although the confirmation effect can sometimes exacerbate the situation as networks can become overloaded and possibly shutting down, the answer lies not necessarily in trying to reduce the confirmation effect but instead to prepare for it by strengthening networks in times of emergency including building in redundancy and prioritization. We fully appreciate this is easier said than done in light of policy, cost and other innumerable considerations.

What are your thoughts? How can the confirmation effect’s impact on our current infrastructure and network capacity be reduced when public emergency alerts are sent? Or is it simply a matter of accepting that capacity needs to scale in times of emergency to accommodate an inevitable confirmation effect?

Take care. Be prepared.

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