As we saw with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, these mega-storms are to be taken seriously the moment they pose the slightest threat to land. I felt Irma's impact being a resident of Central Florida. But, if there is a tiny silver lining when dealing with an approaching hurricane, it’s that there is usually time to prepare whether it's boarding up your home, gathering needed supplies, or preparing to evacuate.
This prep time is also crucial for large organizations and critical infrastructure that need to safeguard hundreds to thousands of employees, students, or patients. Having an effective mass notification system is key as it can greatly speed up the dissemination of important information. For example, the local school district has kept myself and other parents up-to-date regarding school closures before and after the storm with timely, informative mass phone calls.
For airports, hospitals or any organization that may have sent the majority of their workforce home but need to deploy a "ride out" team during the storm, they need a system that can provide regular updates on the storm's path and if need be, send out potentially life-saving shelter-in-place alerts when the storm hits. This especially becomes critical as tornadoes can become a huge threat as a hurricane rolls through. To help provide accurate storm tracking, an emergency notification system should include a weather tracker tool that can automatically broadcast real-time weather updates and warnings from trusted sources like the National Weather Service via text, email, desktop notification, or any number of communications method.
Of course, the need for an effective emergency notification system like this is not just limited to regions impacted by hurricanes as severe weather can strike anywhere. Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC was hit with an unexpected blizzard while Shawnee Mission Medical Center in Shawnee, KS is under constant watch for tornadoes.
After the hurricane has passed, safety officials can use an emergency notification system to warn people to stay away from areas with downed power lines and also inform hunkered down families when it's safe to return to work and school.
As Florida joins Texas in recovery mode, all impacted organizations will do their best to stay prepared as hurricane season is not over yet. Even now everyone is keeping a close eye on Hurricane Jose. But, having an emergency notification system with weather tracking capabilities at least helps them to make informed decisions and distribute that information as quickly and efficiently should another storm makes its approach.