February 7, 2011 · by Barb Murphy
In emergency situations it is critical to obtain accurate information quickly. As our technology has evolved, so have our abilities to communicate. In the 1950’s, the state of Kansas instituted a basic tornado alert system of fire station sirens to warn residents of small towns to take shelter, saving many lives. Recent emergency communication capabilities, especially in severe weather situations, have improved our access to the most current information. We are now able to track weather conditions on TV, the internet, and through text alerts on mobile devices. The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) will take warning systems to the next level by sending emergency alerts to mobile devices such as cell phones and pagers. Scheduled to become available in 2012, CMAS will send 3 types of alerts:
- Presidential alerts: This is any alert message issued by the President for local, regional, or national emergencies, and is the highest priority alert
- Imminent threat alerts: These are notifications of emergency conditions, such as hurricanes or tornadoes, where there is an immediate threat to life or property and action should be taken
- Child abduction emergency/AMBER alerts: These are alerts related to missing or endangered children due to an abduction or runaway situation
Public Response to Alerts and Warnings on Mobile Devices: Summary of a Workshop Report on Current Knowledge and Research Gaps discusses the extensive body of knowledge regarding alerts and warnings and the public response and action before, during, and after emergency situations. Additionally, this book considers the many questions that arise when considering how to apply this knowledge to CMAS and more generally to the use of mobile and other new information and communications technologies for alerts and warnings.
Improving Disaster Management: The Role of IT in Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery identifies promising applications of information and communication technology (IT) to disaster management, potential areas of research for improving the effectiveness of IT, and mechanisms that would enhance research, development, and deployment efforts. This book is intended to inform federal, state, and local policy makers and public safety and emergency management professionals about future opportunities for the application of IT to disaster management.
These books and others on the subject of communication and disaster management can inform discussion and provide information for decision-making.