California county selects emergency notification system
Ventura County ranks as the eleventh most populous county in California. It includes 42 miles of coastline and the Los Padres National Forest, making it susceptible to natural and man-made disasters from large brush fires to hazardous material incidents. Because an emergency can happen at any time, it’s critical to pre-plan responses to various incidents so all stakeholders are prepared. As a result, Ventura County public safety agencies needed a way to disseminate emergency information to key stakeholders and the public quickly, efficiently and at a moment’s notice.
Working with Glendale, Calif.-based Everbridge, the county created notification templates to be used when an incident arises. The application also allows quick edits to the notification if needed.
“Average notifications may take 15 to 20 minutes to complete, but we are able to get messages out within five minutes using our templates. This saves us not only time, but reduces human errors as well, ensuring our message is delivered to the right people, at the right time,” says Gil Zavlodaver, program administrator for Ventura County. The system was installed in 2011 and continues to be updated.
Using the system, Ventura County is able to communicate to various county departments, cities, non-profit and nongovernmental groups and citizens almost instantly. The system notifies through multiple contact paths based off of their geo-coded locations. In addition, each organization has options to designate certain authorized individuals to have specific roles in the system – such as group leader. That person can edit contact information, build out groups and send notifications.
“The system captures a range of contact methods from home and business phone numbers to cell phone and e-mail. In an emergency, you never know where people may be when sending an alert, so having more information increases the chance that the public will receive accurate and timely information to take protective actions,” Zavlodaver says. “It helps us fulfill our mission, to safeguard life, property and the environment.”