By Mary Kate McGrath - July 15, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a tough financial equation for state and local governments; budget cuts are expected as the ongoing pandemic and subsequent lockdown orders have put a strain on an already strapped resources. In April, state tax revenue dropped 50% compared to a year earlier due to businesses closing and residents putting off filing for 2019 amid the pandemic, as per the Nation. Meanwhile, governments are spending more to handle the public health crisis and high-rates of unemployment caused by the economic fallout. Moving forward, state and local governments will need to do more with less, investing in technology and programs that address a large variety of needs.
Nobody can predict the full extent of the economic fallout caused by the ongoing pandemic - in June, the National League of Cities reported that more than 700 cities halted plans to improve roadways, buy new equipment, and complete upgrades to water systems and other critical infrastructure, as per the Brookings Institute. In May, a small positive jobs bounce in May boosted economic outlook, until cases began to surge in Florida, Texas, and California.
The past several months have shown that the public health outlook of COVID-19 is in constant flux, and similarly, state and local leaders must be prepared for a variety of budget outcomes. By Investing in safety technology that addresses a large variety of needs, public safety managers can continue to mitigate the pandemic and handle any other emergencies or disasters that might arise.
Smart911 is a powerful, multi-faceted NG911 technology that can help address the immediate public health crisis and act as a safety net amid a variety of other emergency situations. Alerts and notifications can keep the community informed of public health updates, including current stay-at-home orders, COVID-19 testing site information, and recent statistics on case numbers or hospitalizations. The tool also provides value during a variety of other situations, such as severe weather, traffic, or other emergencies.
Smart911 also offers several additional functions that will help first responders better address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis - public safety profiles provide additional information to 9-1-1 allowing them to respond faster during an emergency. With the Smart911 technology comes an online vulnerable needs registry, which uses crowdsourced data to help emergency managers offer special assistance during a major emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the United States, many communities are finding Smart911 to be a valuable asset amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Arkansas officials reported that the pandemic has spurred public interest in emergency response operations, and the state had an increase in the number of people signing up for the Smart911. As a result, first responders reported having an extra layer of safety when responding to house calls that involve potentially deadly exposure to the virus. Chicago has seen similar success with Smart911 - the tool has allowed residents to self-identify as COVID-19 positive or under self-quarantine better allowing the cities firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement to dispatch teams with the appropriate PPE.
High-Risk Community Identification is one of the many valuable features Smart911 provides for as part of a coronavirus recovery solution, allowing local leaders to better manage safety for vulnerable populations and essential workers by identifying those at high-risk according to CDC Guidelines. The CDC defines people who are at increased risk for severe illness as older adults, those over the age of 50, and people with underlying medical conditions, such as respiratory disorders, diabetes, and a variety of other conditions. Administrators can use data about high-risk individuals to better plan mitigation strategies and conduct wellness check-ins for anyone who has fallen sick. Administrators can send direct and targeted messages via text, phone, e-mail, or digital signage.
Moving forward, state and local leaders can also leverage Smart911 to help emergency responders assist the public for a variety of other emergency situations, such as hurricanes, wildfires, or other natural disasters. The Atlantic hurricane season, which is projected to be worse than normal, will bring dual disasters to many states in the Fall, as a second surge of the virus is also expected in the United States.
In the 40 states and more than 1,500 localities where Smart911 is available, residents can create free profiles to ensure dispatchers know about their disabilities, allergies, medications, house pets or other critical information they might not think to share while making a 911 call, as per StateScoop. This information provides value across a variety of emergency situations - whether the caller is requesting medical assistance for COVID-19 related illness, or emergency managers are trying to evacuate residents during a hurricane or other natural disaster.
The system is also compatible with other emergency response technology, such as a mass notification system. Administrators can use the tool to provide consistent messaging on COVID-19 across platforms, including updates on the recovery process, define clear guidelines, and emphasize ongoing safety measures to ensure all community members stay safe as the economy reopens.
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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