Local Emergency Alert System
Most state and local authorities already have access to a local emergency alert system – the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). However, many Safety Offices will acknowledge IPAWS is far from the perfect system. Known issues include software compatibility, coverage, and the lack of two-way communication that could better prepare first responders for the situation they are about to face.
Furthermore, the process for being IPAWS-authorized is not straightforward and can be expensive if new hardware is required. Consequently many local authorities do not apply for access to the IPAWS local emergency alert system. Unfortunately this can impact the safety of communities where there is no warning system in place other than that provided by the state or federal government.
Take South Dakota for Example
In South Dakota, the Department of Public Safety has an Office of Emergency Management (OEM) that has authorization to access the IPAWS system. OEM can issue emergency alerts state-wide or to targeted geographical locations. However, getting a targeted geographical alert issued involves a chain of command that may take several minutes to complete. Several minutes that could be critical.
As of August 2017, only three counties within the state of South Dakota and the City of Sioux Falls have their own authorization to access the IPAWS system. The other sixty-three counties and 288 cities within them have no local emergency alert system in place, and have to rely on the state´s access to IPAWS in order to send emergency alerts on their behalf – a process that takes time and could cost lives.
How Rave Alert Differs from IPAWS
Rave Alert is a local emergency alert system from Rave Mobile Safety – the developers of Smart911. It differs from IPAWS in that it is a Software-as-a-Service system that can be accessed from any Internet-connected device and therefore there is no software to install or hardware to purchase. Rave Alert is IPAWS-OPEN for WEA/EAS initiated notifications, but uses more channels of communication than IPAWS to maximize coverage in an emergency situation.
Rave Alert also supports two-way communication – a feature that is discussed in the next section – and provides the option for Safety Officers to send both short-form alerts (160 characters) and long-form alerts (1,000 characters). This option can be used to better inform citizens in an emergency. For example, a citizen could receive a 160-character SMS text alert about an emergency situation, and get more information about the emergency by email.
Rave Alert’s Two-Way Local Emergency Alert System
Rave Alert´s local emergency alert system supports two-way communication by voice, SMS text, and email. This not only helps better prepare first responders for the situation they are about to face, but can benefit ongoing incident management and resolution. System administrators can also keep in touch with citizens impacted by the emergency and direct first responders to those in need of assistance.
It is also possible with Rave Alert to segment databases into an unlimited number of groups. This feature allows for a scenario in which CERT-qualified and medically trained citizens can be placed into a specific group and coordinated to help assist during the emergency and mitigate its consequences. Groups can also be created for key incident managers and other key personnel.