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Road sign phone alert mass notification

5 Reasons Cities and Counties Adopt Emergency Mass Notification Systems

Road sign phone alert mass notification

July 14, 2023 Posted by in Location-Based Alerts, Crisis Communications, Mass Notification, Other

When cities and counties need to quickly send communications on multiple channels to keep people safe, an emergency mass notification system plays a critical role.

While electronic emergency alert systems have existed in various forms for decades, the benefit of mass notification systems such as the #1 rated RedFlag system is the ability to adapt in real time to provide the most up-to-date information to targeted groups. This allows organizations to compose one message that is simultaneously delivered to residents via email, text message, voice calls, social media, and internet posts and signage. Additionally, systems like RedFlag feature two-way communication that allow citizens to relay pertinent information to authorities in real time. As threats to public safety continue to multiply, more and more cities and counties are adopting these systems in preparation for the following:

Severe Weather

At the height of hurricane season in 2022, the coastal city of Myrtle Beach adopted an emergency mass notification system intended to warn residents of inclement weather and direct them to safety. “The city said it will be the quickest and easiest way to access up-to-date information during city emergencies,” one news article reads.

Public Health Emergencies

The COVID-19 pandemic showed us the importance of clear mass communication during a public health crisis, but the need is nothing new. In 2014, the CDC confirmed the first case of a patient to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States. The man had traveled from Liberia to Dallas before seeking help for developing symptoms. In such cases where exposure plays a crucial role in containment, communication with residents is absolutely vital for public safety.

Active Shooter Situations

As active shooter incidents increase, many state and local governments look to mass notification systems to keep residents informed. In 2021, the Texas Department of Public Safety implemented the Texas Active Shooter Alert Program. “The goal of this program,” the department’s website reads, “is to save lives and prevent mass violence by notifying the public of nearby active shooter situations and encouraging them to avoid the area or to shelter-in-place.”


The unpredictability and massive scale of wildfires pose a huge threat to residents. This is why systems designed to provide immediate and up-to-date warnings and instructions are critical when dealing with threats covering large areas. The Grand Canyon National Park adopted an emergency notification system for this very reason.

Civil Unrest

Whether a celebration turns chaotic or a peaceful protest turns violent, civil unrest occurs when a public gathering devolves to the point that it poses a threat to public safety. Emergency notification systems allow authorities to warn residents of such events so they can avoid the danger, and also provide real-time instructions to those already affected.

Should cities and counties allow for resident opt-in?

This question raises issues of personal privacy and choice, issues that merit serious consideration from governing bodies as well as citizens. On the one hand, elected officials have an obligation to maintain public order and keep residents informed and safe. That said, free citizens may not appreciate feeling compelled to adopt a government program or system on their personal devices. These are legitimate concerns, which is why many cities and counties elect for allowing residents to opt in to designated emergency mass notification systems.

That said, there are a few ways you can encourage participation:

Customizable Alerts

People want to feel in control of their experience, especially on their own devices. That’s why it’s helpful to allow for customizable features where people can personalize notifications, filter what alerts they receive, and on what device.

Simple Self-Registration Portal

The quickest way to lose the public’s interest is to make the process difficult. Self-registration doesn’t have to be rocket science. Provide people with simple, step-by-step instructions to register for your mass notification system and ensure all the bugs are worked out before going live.

Streamlined Communication System

Bells and whistles don’t amount to much if a person can’t access the most important information when seconds count. That’s why it’s so vital to maximize safety with a streamlined communication system.

Easy-to-Use Notification System

A system intended to keep people safe and informed shouldn’t be complex. That’s why you should choose an emergency mass notification system that’s not only effective, but also user-friendly. Software like Pocketstop RedFlag was designed with non-tech users in mind. In fact, RedFlag has won G2’s “Easiest to Use” Award four times in a row!

How do you evaluate a system’s success?

User feedback is vital to any system’s long-term success. If the public isn’t happy with the product, they won’t use it — and that puts people in danger. When selecting a mass notification system for your city or county, consider whether or not the software allows for two-way communication and audience polling. This will not only provide you with valuable feedback to keep the public engaged, but also allows for real-time communication with residents on the ground in an emergency situation.

With these parameters in mind, adopting an emergency mass notification system should top the agenda for cities and counties seeking to keep their residents safe and informed.

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