Reverse 911 is a public alert system most frequently used by safety organizations to alert individuals and businesses to the risk of danger by sending a recorded voice message to landline telephones and registered cellphones within a defined geographical area. The system identifies which phones should receive the emergency alert by matching databases of telephone service subscribers and databases of registered cellphone users to their physical addresses, and then transmitting the recorded message.
In addition to using voice messaging – as opposed to SMS text – reverse 911 systems differ from WEA wireless alerts inasmuch as emergency alerts are only sent to cellphones registered on the safety organization´s database, rather than to all mobile devices. If an individual wants to receive a reverse 911 emergency alert on their cellphone, they have to register the cellphone with the safety organization. By comparison, WEA systems can broadcast voice messages to all mobile devices in the area whether they are registered or not.
Known Issues with Reverse 911 Systems
A reverse 911 system can be a valuable tool in a multi-layered approach to emergency alerts, but as a standalone system it has its issues. A report released by the U.S. Health Department in May 2017 revealed that more than half of American households (50.8%) were wireless only when it came to having a phone service. The percentage exceeded 70% in homes owned by the 24-35 year age group. Unless these individuals know to register their cellphones with their local safety organization, they will excluded from receiving emergency alerts from the reverse 911 system.
Other known issues with reverse 911 concern the hard of hearing, residents whose first language is not English, and the fact that not all people have answering machines to record an emergency alert when they are out. Furthermore, the reverse 911 number shows up as long distance – which some subscribers block or ignore – and, in some cases, residents have hung up on emergency alerts, believing them to be unsolicited calls. Considering the high proportion of wireless households and the other known issues, a typical reverse 911 system is not the best solution to alert people to the risk of danger.
Rave Alert’s Reverse 911 System
Rave Alert is not a typical reverse 911 system. Although individuals and businesses may still need to register to be included on the Rave Alert database, the system uses multiple channels of communication to alert people to the risk of danger by recorded message, SMS text, email, RSS, CAP, Alertus and social media. Rave Alert is also compatible with the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), so can take advantage of IPAWS-compatible public alert systems to maximize its reach.
Furthermore, Rave Alert operatives via a SaaS platform that can be accessed by safety officials from any Internet-enabled device. This means system administrators do not have to place themselves in danger in order to send an alert to the local population. Rave Alert can auto-translate emergency alerts into thirty-four languages and allows system administrators to send character-limited messages (for SMS text, Twitter and pagers) and long format messages (for email, Facebook and CAP) simultaneously.
Further Features of Rave Alert
Similar to a typical reverse 911 system, Rave Alert provides the facility for people to log into a management portal and add personal details about themselves. These details can include additional points of contact – such as the cellphones belonging to all the members of a family or their email addresses – and information that may be vital for first responders to know in an emergency such as primary language of communication, special medical conditions and mobility issues.
The management portal can also be used as a way for individuals to join “dedicated” groups that have been set up for when an emergency occurs. For example, a safety organization could request that individuals with medical training or who are CERT-qualified opt into a dedicated group so they can be contacted when needed. The group facility aids better coordination of rescue efforts and – due to Rave Alert supporting two-way communication – can enhance situational awareness during an emergency.
Rave Alert Also Supports SMS Opt-In/Opt-Out
The Rave Alert database can be populated by integrating it with an existing directory or by asking people to register manually via the management portal. Alternatively, Rave Alert gives individuals the opportunity to “opt-in” to the emergency alert system by texting a specific keyword to a dedicated short code number – for example text “ALERT” to 12345. Different keywords can be used to assign people into different groups for easier management and in order to contact them quickly when required.
The opt-out facility is provided because people have the right not to be included in a database, even if it might save their lives. In may also be the case that an individual is moving away from the area or changing their cellphone number; in which case they could opt-out of receiving emergency alerts on the old cellphone number and opt in again to Rave Alert’s reverse 911 system by texting the appropriate keyword from their new cellphone number.
Potential Uses for Rave Alert’s Reverse 911 System
The use of Rave Alert is not limited to local authority or state-managed safety organizations; although many such organizations choose Rave Alert to alert residents and businesses to significant risks to life or property due to severe weather, public health concerns and civil unrest. Rave Alert is also used by some local authority managed safety organizations to warn residents of transportation disruptions and infrastructure damage, or to boil water before drinking it.
Other potential uses for Rave Alert’s reverse 911 system include:
– Schools and colleges can use Rave Alert to advise students of an on-campus emergency or to advise parents of closures due to inclement weather.
– Businesses can use Rave Alert to orchestrate emergency evacuations by building or to direct IT teams during a malware or ransomware attack.
– Hospitals can use Rave Alert to summon medical personnel into the hospital to treat injured citizens after a disaster or other emergency incident.
Request a Free Demo of Rave Alert
If you are in a position of responsibility in a safety organization, school, business or hospital, and you would like to find out more about Rave Alert’s reverse 911 system, do not hesitate to contact us and request a free demo of Rave Alert in action. After discussing your existing emergency alert system and how you feel it could be improved, our team of technical experts will tailor a demo of Rave Alert to match your specific circumstances.
If you have comments or questions you would like to ask before committing to a demo, please share them with us. Our objective is to develop the most powerful data and communication tools to save time and save lives, and any input you can provide will be gratefully received – especially by those whose lives are saved by Rave Alert’s reverse 911 system.