At the January EastPAC meeting, we learned about 2 new systems for emergency alerts: one is AlertSeattle to receive warnings of emergencies and the other is Smart911.
AlertSeattle is a free service that you can sign up for to receive alerts through texting, email, and voice mail or on social media (Facebook and Twitter). You sign up online at alert.seattle.gov for the alerts you want: severe weather alerts, major traffic incidents, utility service disruptions and other safety and health alerts.
Although there is no charge for this service, there might be a cell phone charge on your end, depending on your service contract.
Smart911 is a service that enhances the information the 911 responder has for a cell phone number. Identifying the location of a cell phone caller is rather vague at this point. The example given was a real situation in Michigan, where the caller seemed unable to stop coughing to answer the 911 operator’s questions and his location appeared to be in the middle of a lake. Fortunately the man’s wife had completed the enhanced information for his cell phone which showed his actual address (on the lake, not in it) and other data that helped emergency responders reach the man in time to pull him from a burning house, unconscious but alive.
Smart911 allows one to create their personal safety profile, including address and phone number and even medical information that might be pertinent. One can add as much or as little as they wish. The speaker assured the group that it was a secure system; the only way the personal data can be retrieved is when the caller uses the associated cell phone number to call 911. No one can access the information by name, address, etc.
Go to Smart911.com to create a profile. Again this service is free. It is currently being offered to unincorporated King County and in Seattle, eventually being rolled out to all county communities. One can imagine that this service would be especially important to those with health conditions, hearing loss or residents not proficient in English.