How Eaton County, MI Delivers Concise Communications to Their Community

Picture of Mary Kate McGrath By Mary Kate McGrath

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concise communicationsThe rural district of Eaton County, Michigan has discovered a way to deliver concise communications to their diverse community of more than 108,000 residents across 43,908 households and 2,092 businesses. The rural district is 579 square miles and is also more densely-populated than surrounding areas. This means that the district has unique challenges when it comes to communicating with residents about issues and emergencies that might affect them.

Fully-Integrated Systems for Concise Communications

The mostly rural Eaton County has a surprisingly high population and the tight diverse communities require different notifications for their varying needs and daily routines. As County officials were comparing mass notification products, they were looking for a system that could easily geo-target, segment and scale. Officials also wanted to ensure constituents weren't opting out after receiving too many irrelevant alerts by enabling them to choose which messages they wanted to receive.

While a study by Deloitte found that Americans check their smartphones 52 times a day on average and are likely to checks their phone if they receive a notification, the growing amount of notifications is impeding delivery. Notification fatigue can lead to people deleting apps or unsubscribing to notifications. It's important for local officials to find a good balance when it comes to notification practices. 

In the case of Eaton County, an alert system that could geofence notifications around a specific area in the county would minimize alert fatigue, making sure important information is getting to the right people. For example, it made no sense for officials to send a message to all residents of Eaton County about a gas main break in a neighborhood when the message only pertained to those in the vicinity or traveling through the area.

In addition to notifying community members through a mass alert system, the county also has another emergency response system connected to the county's 9-1-1 system that allows them to help locate, communicate, and assist callers during an emergency. The county also has the ability to tap into personal safety profiles like Smart911 to further provide critical data such as medical information to 9-1-1 call takers. 

A Smart911 profile can include as little and as much information as a person wants to give, giving people the option to provide first responders with their address, medical needs, and other life-saving details. A Smart911 profile could be the difference between police arriving on a scene and an ambulance arriving on a scene.

Getting Community Buy-In for County Systems

An area communities often struggle with in addition to managing alert fatigue is getting their residents to adopt and use technology. One way Eaton County is meeting this challenging is through a custom community portal mobile app, where residents can not only sign up for notifications, but also create and maintain their Smart911 profiles. The Smart911 app combines these two offerings and has led to a 70% increase in notification sign-ups for the county. 

Another unique way Eaton County has dealt with getting their residents to stay on their alerting system is by allowing them to sign up for specific alert lists. The Smart911 app makes signing up for and customizing alerts easier than everEaton County uses several alerting options. Local safety managers are able to get residents to sign up for specific alert lists (like weather or traffic alerts) and deliver messages to people not signed up for any lists to communicate the importance of emergency notifications.

Giving residents the choice in the alert process allows local managers to address their unique concerns. This practice also reduces the amount of people unsubscribing from alerts, since residents are able to choose the messages needed. 

Want to learn more about how Eaton County is delivering concise communications in their community?

Eaton County Case Study

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Mary Kate McGrath

Written by Mary Kate McGrath

Mary Kate is a content specialist and social media manager for the Rave Mobile Safety team. She writes about public safety for the state & local and education spheres.

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