Sounding the alarm but no one is listening

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An emergency alert system is only as effective as the number of people it can reach. The latest and greatest processes, procedures and technology can quickly become ineffective if nobody hears, or sees, the alerts. This challenge is faced by some mass notification solutions that are reliant upon citizens signing up and supplying personal information such as phone numbers and emails in order to be alerted to emergencies. These solutions come with an impressive array of technology including priority routing and retry capabilities, dynamic channel switching, etc. but all that capability is meaningless if only a fraction of the public meant to alert and keep safe have taken the time to sign up.

Why are people not signing up? Is it because they don’t think their chances of being struck by disaster is slim to none and therefore there’s no benefit to buckling up? Possibly. But it can be due to other reasons as well. It can be simply ‘never got around to it’. Been meaning to sign up but just never have. It can also be a concern with supplying personal information, e.g. name, address, phone number(s), email(s). How will that information be used and how will it be kept safe? I know supplying this information is meant to help me and keep me safe, but can this information be used against me in some other way? Privacy related considerations alone is enough to give some people pause if not outright stop them in their tracks and turn them around.

Then there are the trends. We hear every day about people cutting the cord. Mainly in regards to the decline of cable subscribership (and the incline of streaming services) but the same is true of traditional telephones. People are cutting the cord there as well, choosing to use mobile phones instead. And what are they doing on those mobile phones? Turns out fewer phone calls and email. Email is becoming more a personal identification tool than it is a communications tool (email IDs are often asked for or used to sign up for other services including other communications and messaging services).

It’s for this reason that we focus our product development efforts on mobile apps, web and social media. The same challenge exists, however, with these other channels. People need to have your app, go to your website or follow you on social media for an alerting function to be effective. Having alerting products for these alternative channels is not sufficient on their own. They need to be promoted to build a user base for them to be effective, no different to many other products.

Take care. Be prepared.

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