How Government Agencies Can Use Mass Notifications to Prepare for Severe Weather


Government Severe Weather Preparedness

When the threat of severe weather looms, government agencies need to be ready to answer the call. Whether that’s adjusting their own operations to ensure minimal disruptions or preparing to help citizens that rely on their services, the more notice they have about a severe weather event the better they can respond. No matter where you are in the world, severe weather can have a detrimental impact if you are caught unaware. Tornadoes, blizzards, intense heat, floods, hurricanes, and more can put people and property at risk. Advance warning can be hard to achieve or be a manual, time-consuming process as people waste time watching the news for updates.

That’s why many government agencies rely on mass notification systems to help automate alerts when severe weather approaches. Using information from the National Weather Service, a mass notification system can automatically trigger alerts for a specific geographical area and for particular weather events. In this blog post, we’ll go over how government agencies can use mass notifications to automate severe weather alerts for advance warnings and improved response times.

Automated Weather Notifications

To automate weather alerts, organizations will need to configure their system to monitor a CAP feed from the National Weather. They will need to identify the weather events they want to receive alerts for and the relevant geographic region. When severe weather approaches, it will trigger a notification, and organizations can determine beforehand who should receive those alerts. If the weather event has the potential to impact operations or people’s immediate safety, it may make sense to broadcast the alert to everyone. If there is more lead time, or the event is less urgent, it may only be necessary to notify a select group who can then make a decision on next steps.

When the alert goes out, it can be sent via a variety of methods to a wide range of devices. Text and audio can be distributed to IP phones, IP speakers, desktop computers, and digital signage for people within government buildings, and SMS text, emails, and push notifications can be sent to mobile devices for people that are remote. By leveraging every available channel to share severe weather alerts, it’s more likely messages reach 100 percent of their intended audience. This means people see or hear a message sooner and begin taking the appropriate actions to stay safe.

IPAWS Broadcasts

For even greater reach, some mass notification systems can leverage the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). IPAWS provides public safety officials (federal, state, local, tribal, etc.) with an effective way to alert and warn the public about serious emergencies. This functionality within a mass notification system utilizes the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to broadcast messages.

Mass notification alerts to WEA can reach any cell phone within a geographic area. Alerts sent to EAS allows users to set a screen crawl across TV screens for local TV stations. This helps organizations reach people who may not be registered within their system. This functionality requires approval from FEMA to use, and need to be recognized as an authorized Coordinating Operating Group (COG) by FEMA. This authorization is typically only granted to organizations involved with public safety, such as universities, police, sheriff, and state emergency management offices. Once authorized, a COG can use the IPAWS functionality to send Amber Alerts, Evacuation Notices, Shelter In Place, Silver Alerts, and other relevant emergency notices. Those alerts are typically limited geographically to only send to devices within the county the COG is located.

As an NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, Singlewire Software is dedicated to promoting best practices when it comes to severe weather readiness. Download our natural disaster eBook for more insight into how a mass notification system can help your organization.




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