Disasters can strike anywhere, anytime and can impact anyone, so Wireless Emergency Communications project at Georgia Institute of Technology, to discuss the next Think Tank topic. Serino reminded participants that “FEMA needs to use the best technology available to communicate with disaster survivors and those with disabilities and access and functional needs.”
He also noted that the Emergency Alert System test held in November of 2011 revealed several areas of improvement necessary for modernizing our national alerting systems, including problems with speed of the content and message accessibility. As FEMA develops the next-generation system, lessons from the test will be applied to ensure a more accessible experience for everyone.
In her remarks, Dr. Mitchell noted that the explosion of devices and software platforms in the market gives wireless manufacturers and developers “a perfect opportunity for [them] to involve end users in creating new devices that will have accessible features at the front end.”
Dr. Mitchell also noted with the explosion of social media, 65% of all Americans and 63% of those with disabilities use platforms like Facebook and Twitter, emergency managers have begun looking at those systems for enhancing the delivery of emergency alerts.
As I mentioned during the conversation, when people have access to emergency alerts, they can actively participate in preparedness efforts. This, in turn, optimizes emergency response resources for individuals who truly need assistance.
During the event, folks on Twitter joined the conversation with over 100 tweets using the hashtag #FEMAThinkTank:
- Everyone should have access to emergency alerts – @mkelly007
- Incorporating social media into emergency communications systems – @CACPGT
Serino closed the session by saying, “Community is a crucial part of all preparedness plans. It requires effort from the whole community to get through a disaster.”
He also encouraged people to continue participating in the Think Tank, sharing and discussing the ideas posted. A full transcript of the event will be posted at www.fema.gov/thinktank shortly.