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October 27, 2014 Posted by in Other

Oct. 27, 2014
Erika Engle
The Buzz

New technological systems warn of impending storms

The sound of alarms blaring from multiple mobile devices in the pockets and purses of people around you likely has become a familiar phenomenon, given recent Hurricanes Iselle and Ana, as well as heavy rain events.

The mass notification system technology enabling those alerts has been used by government agencies for years, including the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (formerly called State Civil Defense).

With technological upgrades, such systems now are often called multichannel mass communications programs, and they are being increasingly adopted by commercial entities.

JLL, formerly known as Jones Lang LaSalle, recently completed installation of the RedFlag notification system by Texas-based Pocketstop LLC.

“It was a lot more expensive before… but now it’s so inexpensive it’s a no-brainer,” said Kirk Horiuchi, JLL senior vice president and Hawaii retail market lead.

Chicago-based JLL manages Hawaii malls and shopping centers including Windward Mall and Hawaii Kai Towne Center of Oahu, Queen Kaahumanu Center and Kukui Mall on Maui, and Kings’ Shops on Hawaii island, and began rolling out such a system earlier this year.

“We had it in place at our larger malls” prior to Hurricane Iselle. “We had it all ready to keep our tenants informed, even their mainland or regional managers, so they could be notified if they wanted to make the call for the store to be closed,” he said.

The last two shopping centers were hooked up in time for Hurricane Ana.

The company creates call lists for each center, and tenants can opt in to receive notifications by email, text or phone, and most opt for all of the above.

“We heard the storm was coming; we created a message” and sent it in a blast out to affected tenants, he said. Messages are generated based on whichever authority governs a particular emergency, said Horiuchi.

The written messages are transformed into spoken-word messages for the phone call notifications, akin to the robotic and choppy-sounding National Weather Service announcements that often end with the words “turn around, don’t drown.”

The system has “been very helpful,” and JLL has received positive feedback from tenants, he said.

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