I was asked the other day if mobile apps are now the best way to alert the public of disasters and hazards? Despite being strong advocates of mobile technologies since that’s our area of specialization and expertise, my answer was no. That may come as a surprise to those who know us.
The primary objective of public emergency alerting is to notify as many people as possible to keep the maximum number of people safe and out of harm’s way. How to achieve that depends on where people are and what they are doing, including what they may be looking at, watching or listening to. That could include watching television, listening to the radio, looking at a digital display board, using their smartphone or online services, or they are simply in earshot of their smartphone and virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.
A good public emergency alerting program will try to hit as many channels as possible and what the budget will allow. Now, it’s true, that more people are cutting the cord every day and certain channels are in decline. This does not necessarily mean you should immediately stop alerting on those declining channels. But you should keep track of the trends and be prepared to adjust your alerting channel strategy, appropriately.
Mobile apps are one of the channels to keep track of and to consider adding to your channel mix if not already. Mobile app usage continues to increase and they serve as a nice fallback to smartphone wireless alerting for people who don’t have a smartphone compatible with wireless alerting technology or who are not home (or at work) at the time of a wireless alert.
Take care. Be prepared.
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