Over-alerting: How much is too much and what to do about it?

Over Alerting

Striking a balance between keeping the public informed in the case of an emergency and inundating them with alerts is a significant challenge faced by Emergency Management agencies.

“There’s a very delicate balance between how much is enough and how much (alerting) is too much,” said FEMA’s Damon Penn in an interview with CBS News [https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cell-users-complain-too-many-amber-alerts/]. If alerts are too frequent, distracting or irrelevant, you risk people opting out of notifications altogether.

Effective alerting, on the other hand, can dramatically increase public engagement and satisfaction: for example, research has shown that mobile app users who opted in to push messages averaged 3x more app launches than those who opted out. (2015: The Year that Push Notifications Grew Up).

While agency training and policy are key to determine how and when to alert, an effective public alerting solution can support the right balance. Some techniques we use in Alertable to avoid over notifying include:

  • the option to opt-out of alerts for non-life threatening event
  • the choice of specific areas relevant to the recipient
  • the ability to alert for events near the recipient’s current location following mobile platform features like do-not-disturb that give users control of when and when not to receive alerts

By providing users prominent options to customize their experience, we help to ensure they receive the most critical, relevant and contextual emergency information. This ensures the public is kept informed and engaged during emergency events, while not becoming annoying or distracting.

Take care. Be prepared.

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