Large scale emergencies call for coordinated, multi-agency response. When an emergency effects multiple counties, every resident deserves access to reliable public safety information. Unfortunately, some agencies lack the funding to accomplish this, while others lack the coordination with other departments to deliver unified messaging.
Register for the replay of the webinar, Managing Multi-Agency ENS Deployments: Increasing Resident Reach, Cost Savings and Unified Messaging to hear from Brian Toolan, Technical Account Manager for Florida Division of Emergency Management at Everbridge. This webinar covers the following topics:
- Challenges with event communication and coordination
- Cost savings of a large or statewide notification deployment
- Use Cases: Florida and Connecticut
View the slides below:
Discover why an ENS Solution is important for an Emergency Management Plan.
For a full transcription of the webinar see below:
Michael Scott: Thank you for joining us today and welcome to our latest webinar, Managing Multi-Agency ENS Deployments for Increasing Resident Reach, Cost Savings, and Unified Messaging. Before we get started, I just want to go over some housekeeping items. As always, these sessions are recorded. If for some reason you have to drop off, leave early, or you dropped off and came back and missed some part or just want to review the webinar, we will send out the recording to all registrants. It will be available on our website afterwards as well. If at any point during the webinar you’d like to ask a question before the Q&A session, you can do so by selecting the Q&A function to submit your questions. Make sure you send it to all panelists. That’s on your GoToWebinar panel, which should be on the right side of your screen. We will be checking live tweets, so if you’d like to tweet out some snippets of information, we might even share some of it. You can use the hashtag #EVBG. While you’re at it, follow us @everbridge on Twitter.
Let’s jump into the agenda. On the docket for today, we’re going to going over for the webinar a background on our speaker, be covering with challenges with event communication and coordination. That includes social media platforms, messaging for the whole community, internal and external messaging, and targeting the right audience. We’ll also give you guys, as attendees, a couple looks into some real life use cases that we’ve had for these multi-agency, large scale deployments. Followed by that we will cover some of the benefits of the state at large or even state-wide notification deployments, such as cost savings, sharing with everyone within a county, a city, a state. Unified messaging and unified situational awareness.
With that being said, I want to introduce our speaker today. His name is Brian Toolan. He’s a Solutions Consultant for Everbridge, currently handling the Alert Florida account. He works for our Professional Services team. Brian, when you are ready, you may begin.
Brian Toolan: Thank you very much. Good afternoon, everyone. As Michael said, my name is Brian Toolan. I’m the technical account manager for the Alert Florida initiative, which is the statewide contract for the state of Florida, covering all 67 counties and the majority of the cities and government sectors within the state of Florida. My background coming into work here is a 24 year career in state government, spanning from 1992 to 2016. All 24 years of that in the public safety field. The last eight years I spent in emergency management and homeland security for the state of Connecticut, all 24 years within the state of Connecticut.
I was also an Everbridge customer during the last eight years of the time I spent in Connecticut. I was the operations section chief for the state emergency operations center, overseeing three federally declared disasters, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene, several major winter storms. During my tenure I was the program manager for the Connecticut Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, which responded to the largest natural gas power plant explosion on record in the country, and that was the Clean Energy Power Plant in Middletown. We also responded to several missing persons throughout the state.
The reason I bring up these specific incidents, these we specifically used the Everbridge system pretty heavily during all of these incidents. I’m proud to say that it worked very well. Obviously, as I went on to become an employee here. I’m going to go through some of the stuff today that leads us to where we are today within rolling out large scale deployments, why it’s a good idea, why it works for some, and some of the benefits that you can have from that.
The first part, really are the challenges that you’re going to come across in event communications. Typically, with social platforms, everyone loves to use Twitter and Facebook and several different social media platforms today. They’re great, they reach out to a lot of people out there, but with all of those great aspects of social media also come some pitfalls, as I’m sure all of you on the phone who use social media, or on the conference today, have experienced at one point or another. Who’s the audience? You get a large audience of people when it comes to social media. You get the good, you get the bad, you definitely get your critics out there. We all know that from the government side. No matter what you put out there, it’s just not good enough for the citizen who’s receiving it. You could always do something better.
However, the audience lately has been getting a lot larger. It’s also getting much younger. As the generations grow up and we expect to get the smartphones and the technology comes out there, we have a whole bunch of people joining on the social media side. It’s great to capture that audience, but are we getting everyone we truly need with that audience? Typically, no. We’re getting a certain type of demographic when we reach out to the social media platforms.
With those platforms, typically, you have to have policies and procedures. Who’s allowed to use those? In the state of Connecticut, it was really down to just a couple people who had the ability to send out based on discussions with the higher ups in command. What gets put out there, when does it get put out there, and how does it get put out there? The three big problems that come up with social media. Over the past several years, we’ve had several major events. The Boston bombing, for instance, saw tens of millions of people using social media to announce what was going on. It was great, but with that comes some miscommunication.
When information gets put out there, if there’s too much information, there’s times where people miss certain parts of it, and instead of going back and looking through what was happening, we start to from our own objections and our own opinions as to what was being said, and that’s where we start to get the differences of what was going on. Using that social media platform, again, positives, negatives, reinforcing crisis alerts. If you’re sending out your emergency messaging throughout your mass notification system, you’re following it up with some social media, it just reinforces what you put out there as the authority figure. Again, the good policies and procedures that come into place with that is what will make you be very successful with your social media notifications, or on the other side, can become a problem.
Transparency, I like to talk about that because when we put out information from the government, everybody wants to see exactly what we’re doing. Every government now seems to talk about transparency. They want their citizens to be able to see exactly what they’re doing, know what they’re doing. With the social media platforms, we take into consideration the transparency aspect of social media marketing. The character limitations is often a problem, getting the right message out through those character limitations, Twitter being a very short message, short character count messaging system versus Facebook that will allow you to put pictures on there, put hyperlinks and a much longer message.
What is the right aspect to go to? When you utilize the Everbridge system on that, you can show that there’s … We take away some of those limitations. Being able to post more to Twitter and just form a link where people can open up your message and now actually see your entire message. Having the right emergency notification system can take away some of those problems, as you go down the [road 00:08:25].
Finally, we like to talk about unified messaging. Everybody nowadays in the government side, it’s unified messaging. We want to make sure that we’re all on the same page, we’re all putting out the same message. Want to make sure that our citizens realize that us as the government, we know what we’re doing. We’re in conversation with each other, the fire departments, the police department, the emergency management healthcare. Everyone’s talking to each other, everyone’s getting on the same page. We’re pushing out the same message across all platforms. There’s nothing worse to show your citizens when one agency is saying something that is completely different than another agency and vice versa. We want to make sure when we do that messaging through social media, we’re all talking to each other.
Get to this table, talk beforehand, get your message together, and put out a clear, actionable item that your citizens can understand. Obviously, whatever you put out there, you can’t take it back. The reason for unified messaging, you want to make sure that clear, actionable item is put on the table, because you just don’t have that capability to retrieve it once it’s been out there.
For all of you in the emergency management world, you know that FEMA likes to stress the Whole Community aspect. What is the Whole Community aspect? It’s basically, I bulleted down, I put into boldface at the bottom part of it. “Whole Community is a philosophical approach to how to think about conducting emergency management.” What does that mean to us? In the technology age, how do we respond to the people out there who are sitting there glued to their cell phones? I go out to dinner with my family every once in a while. I’ll look around the room and you’ll see table after table where there’s no more conversation at the table. They’re all sitting there on their phones. I almost feel like they’re texting each other their conversation at the dinner table instead of picking their heads up and talking to each other.
That’s the world we live in today, so we need to know how to adjust to it. How do we take advantage of that technology age? How do we reach out the people who are doing that? That’s part of our community. The authority to put out that messaging, who has that authority? From IPAWS to actual phone calls to the actual message itself, who is the one who’s taking the authority role in reaching out to the community? It all starts before the disaster, as we all know. The more we can do to reach out to our communities, the more we can do to get to know who those people are. What is our community makeup? What are our special needs out there? What types of citizens’ action groups are there? What type of faith-based groups are there out there? All of these come into play once the disaster hits. Who can we really on? Can we do planning ahead of time? Can we equip our neighborhoods with the equipment they need beforehand in order to make our job on the government’s side much easier to work through once the disaster happens?
We get the money from the federal government, we spend money on the latest and greatest equipment and toys and ability to respond to the incident, but what can we do ahead of time? An emergency notification system, that’s what we do ahead of time so that we can reach out to our citizens. We can let them know what’s going on. We can steer them out of danger, we can arm with the latest information coming from the local government, the state government, and the county government. These are all things that have that Whole Community approach.
When we talk about our special needs, one thing I love to see when I go from county to county here in Florida and when I was in Connecticut is the people who take the time to put their special needs registries in their notification system. Can we reach out to those people when the time is needed? We lose power. How do we get ahold of those people who are power-dependent? How do we get ahold of those people who have special medical needs that may need to go to doctors’ appointments and dialysis appointments over the next couple days. We’ve all experienced it, when we get those phone calls that “I need transportation,” or “I have problems with this,” or “I need food,” or, “I don’t have any water.” “I just don’t have any power and I need that power to survive.” These are all things we do ahead of time to capture our whole community. Putting those systems in place into our emergency notification system ahead of time helps us afterwards regain the citizens’ trust.
Finally, we all love to talk about it, political pressure. We all have that. We’ve all gone through it. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t see some of that throughout my time. In fact, I had a phone call with a customer a couple days ago who asked me just for some information how he could develop some pamphlets, how can we come to the table ahead of time when we have a problem, put out the information where it is more unified. When I talked about it and I said, “Well, the first thing you got to remember is the political figurehead’s going to approve this message.” How are they going to incorporate this message and what do they want being said?
Their response back was, “Gee, you’ve been sitting in on our conversations for the past two weeks? You basically just hit upon everything we’ve been talking about.” Again, we like to talk about this ahead of time. Bring everybody to the table, get this stuff figured out, and then get an emergency notification system that can work with you, for you, and for your community. At the end of the day, what’s the point of having something that won’t work?
One aspect of critical communications is the messaging. Can we talk to our employees while we talk to our citizens? It’s just as important to keep our employees up to date with the information. They’re the ones we rely on to come in every day, put out the fires that all the sudden erupt when we have issues, but we need to keep them informed. How do we let them know that the weather’s going to be to a point where we need to bring them in a little ahead of time? Maybe they’re not coming in at all, because the weather conditions are too bad to have them safely come to work. Having a communication system where we can reach out to our employees, we know how to get ahold of them, whether it’s through email, through text messages, through telephone calls, or through cell phone calls.
We’ve all gone through the challenges of being able to contact an employee on non-government related equipment or non-business equipment, because of having to pay them or things like that. When we talk to them about this stuff, this is to make them better equipped to do their job, more informed on how to do their job and ultimately protect them during a time of an emergency. We have to outweigh some of those problems.
Changes in situation. Bringing an employee in, what time do you bring them in? If the storm is going to start at 6:00 in the morning, do we bring them in prior to that? Do we wait a little while? Do we bring them in just afterwards? How often are we going to communicate with them after the change in status? Overnight, something can change drastically. All of the sudden the storm can come in two, three hours earlier. Do we have a system in place that automatically notifies them of weather changes? Having a notification system that can do that is critical in the emergency world and public safety world all together. Again, part of the systems that come into play.
COOP reporting, we all do it now. We do it here at Everbridge, we do it in the state of Connecticut we did it, it’s done down here in Florida, throughout the corporate world, business continuity is one of the leading trends going out there now. How can do you do a successful COOP drill, or a real life event? Again, using that mass notification system to reach out to your employees, making sure you know where they are. Ask them a question within the conversation of the message. Are you reporting to work today? Are conditions too bad where you can’t come in to work? Crafting that message to keep your employees up to date with the most recent information.
Public notification. We’ve taken care of our employees. Now, how do we approach our general population? How do we prepare the right messages? Who prepares those messages? Is it the public information officer? Is it the command staff? Who is going to decide “this is what we need to release to the public”? How do we get them to jump into our system? We can have an emergency notification system that allows for public opt-in, that’s perfect. How do you market that? How do you get the people to truly log into your system, how do you get them put an address in there and take that fear out of “Big Brother’s watching me again? They just want my information.”
How are we able to overcome that? The vast majority of the people aren’t going to do that, but how you market it is really the true side of it. Sending out weather notifications. Letting people know what’s going on. Letting people know that “We just need to know where you are so we can inform you what’s going on in your neighborhood.” It’s a big issue throughout the country, where you can geo-target someone’s location. Having a backup in place. You take the Everbridge system, for instance, that has the ability to allow you to do the opt-in for anonymous subscribers. You don’t need to know exactly where they are. It’s a general message.
We’re going to market that out to you. We’d like to get you messages that affect your house, we’d like to get you messages that affect your loved ones. Your place of business, however, we can also message you just general information. Keeping the perfect message rhythm. We used to talk about this all the time. What’s going to be our battle rhythm for messaging? How often are we going to put out messages? Too much? How much is too much? Are you putting out messages every 15 minutes or half hour? Odds are, people are going to drop from your system at that point. We saw that during Hurricane Matthew in the state of Florida where we had hundreds of thousands of people opt into our system. As we put out a little too much messaging, some people dropped off. As we put out the right messaging, people were opting in.
Again, it comes down to how are you going to effectively communicate? We have best practices out there to help you with that. My personal opinion on that is keeping a schedule of notifications. We’re going to have a major press release every two hours. Maybe every hour we put some reminders out there as to what’s going on, the current condition. As conditions change, we may need to ramp that up. We may need to put more messaging out there. As conditions slow down, we may be able to extend that a little more.
One of the great things we were able to do with the IPAWS system is stay ahead of the storm. As the storm was coming up the coast, we were able to notify communities prior to landfall as to what conditions may be like, what they should be doing ahead of time. As it got closer and it became too late to evacuate, messaging about what to do now. Staying in place, staying in certain areas, only calling 911 for true emergencies. Not just to ask questions or to inquire what’s going on. Then as the storm passes through and you have curfews that are put in place, circling back and notifying of curfews. All of these things take into consideration how often you’re messaging and what your population, your messaging is.
How do we get the right audience? The best, obvious way for us is to geo-target. If we can get people to commit an address onto a map and say “This is where I live, this is where my kids go to school, this is where my parents live,” we can now send messages directly to you, directly to your location, and let you know exactly what’s going on. Our number one request would be, obviously, to get that information. When that doesn’t happen, what else do we do? We have tourists. We don’t know where the tourists are. The transient population, the people who come in and work for a few months and then go somewhere else, that come in and do special jobs or relocate for temporary needs.
You have large gatherings. Take for instance, the inauguration. We put out special messaging for the inauguration and found out that key elements around that were prohibiting communications. Cell phone towers, were there enough cell phone towers in the location? How do you target the right cell phone towers to get the message to the right audience? Of course, we have language barriers. All of these things come into play when you have to send out that emergency message. Utilizing a platform that can take into consideration all of these is the key to the right emergency notification system. I like to think, and obviously because I used it for several years as an employee of a government, that the Everbridge system does all of the things I need it to do, when I need it to do it.
Some of our large scale deployments. We have several of them. We’re proud of our large scale deployments that we’ve done over the past several years, 10 years now. State of Connecticut being the first one. Population of 3.6 million people, started up in 2009 under the Everbridge Aware, since has migrated over to the Mass Notification platform. We have over 800 trained users of the system, and 111 public safety answering points. That’s a large, powerful number of people who can leverage the system to notify the citizens of Connecticut. Very great setup, all major state agencies have the capability of notifying their employees. 45 cities, state department of public health, and the state police all currently using it.
Since 2009, 20 million messages have been sent out using the CT alert system. All messages going to who they need to go to for all various types of different issues. From major storms to missing people to just what you see down below, which is the governor’s hurricane exercise, using Everbridge to facilitate the exercise on behalf of the governor.
Another large scale deployment that we’re proud of is the National Capital Region. The area around Washington, DC. Population of 5.7 million people migrated over to the Everbridge platform in 90 days. This was a system that needed to go live very quickly. They were using a previous system, switched over to Everbridge system but only had 90 days to get this completed. All of the counties were up and running within that 90 days.
Everbridge also is integrated with the customer system including CAD and other systems that we have, including communications and community engagement. During the winter storm, over 12,000 messages were sent to residents and employees over the course of a week, averaging one every 1.2 minutes. Again, was that over-messaging, under-messaging, or was it the right messages? From what we know about our after action reports from this, it was the perfect size for messaging. Some of it was going to citizens, some of it was going to employees.
The state of Florida, one of our largest ones, actually the largest one we have right now. Population 20 million people. In 2016, over 113 million tourists visited the state of Florida. 67 counties with 22 cities with a population of around or over 100,000. The Florida Department of Emergency Management being the owner of the system. Currently, we’re a little over 37 counties that are live. 24 of them are in the process, and as of the other day, we were told 65 of the 67 counties have declared the intent to move onto the system. It’s not only open to the counties, it’s also open to major cities and some of the other cities throughout the state. Right now, we have three of the large cities on there. The city of Miami coming on soon, Orlando, Tampa, some of the other cities that are in the system right now.
Six plus million people are in the contact database for the state. Now, it’s a population of 20 million, and you see that only six plus million people are in there. It grows as we speak, every day. Now, that goes to the fact that the landline database is just not what it used to be. Not too many people have home phone numbers anymore, or landline phone numbers. People are going to the voice over internet, they’re going to cell phones. Again, the day of technology is upon us, where we don’t have a regular household phone that we rely on anymore. How do we combat that? We’ll show you in the next couple slides some of the different ways we’re able to overcome not having all 20 million people registered into a system.
How did the state of Florida take the approach to deploy the system? Florida set up a steering committee. They established several different people from a few of the counties who are interested in being on the steering committee. They drew up exactly what they were looking for. What do we want out of this notification system? What options do we have, what do we want to do with our system? Very important, key pieces of information. Everybody can sell you an emergency notification system that can do a lot of different things. What is the right package for you?
This group of people took the time to really dig into what everybody had to offer out there. Not looking at one specific system, but all the different systems and what capabilities they had. They came up with a plan as to what they wanted to see, they put that plan into action, put that plan out there for people to look at. Three phases for rollout. The first phase included the communities that the steering committee came from. Those were very successfully rolled out in a very short period of time. From there, we adopted some best practices for the state of Florida and how it could be utilized throughout the state.
The bottom, really, the goal was to have 85 to 90% of the counties into this system by the three year mark of the contract. Right now, we’re on track to achieve about 92 to 95% of that within the first 15 months. By the end of this fiscal year, end of June 30th, we should have pretty much 95 to 97% of the counties completed and on track to gain success with our system.
On site support, a real key component of a large deployment. You want those dedicated resources. Who can somebody turn to when something doesn’t look right? Who can somebody turn to if they need more training? If they just need their memory jogged, they go through the different types of training, and they’re trying to do something in the case of emergency, and they just can’t remember what it was they were trying to get to? A dedicated resource, the technical account manager, is that dedicated resource.
The state of Florida seeing Hurricane Matthew come up the coast, knowing it was the first major hurricane to hit the state in over a decade, with a new staff of employees just wasn’t comfortable with dedicated messaging. They called up, “Brian, can you come up and sit in our EOC for a week?” “Absolutely.” We were up there for five days. Helped with all the messaging going out through the Everbridge system as well as through IPAWS. Having that dedicated on site personnel, someone who can be there when you call, answer your questions when you need them, goes a long way.
Again, 20 million people, 2016, 113 million citizens. This is kind of a … Again, I talked about community engagement a little bit, and I’m going to go into it more now. I just want to show you a video that we captured from Hurricane Matthew that speaks to how we can capture the visitors and the tourists and the transient populations. Go back.
Rick Scott: I just finished a briefing with the state meteorologist. If you’re watching and you live in an evacuation zone, you need to leave now and get to a safe zone. If you’re watching and you’re in an evacuation area, get out. Text “FLPREPARES,” one word, to 888777, and you’ll get updates from the State Emergency Response Team. “FLPREPARES,” one word, at 888777 and you’ll get updates. It can save your life.
Brian Toolan: You’ll see we combined not only social media but we combined the use of community engagement. 350,000 people opting in in less than 24 hours. Within 48 hours, we were close to half a million people. Half a million people that were not currently in the system. A half a million who were most likely in that impacted area. The area that we were most concerned about. That’s a half a million people we didn’t have, that we couldn’t communicate with, but with one press conference, with one keyword and one simple message, we were able to communicate with that many more people. Very powerful and effective tool in order to get to that citizen population or that transient or visitor population.
How do we keep that unified situational awareness? Another good part of the system that I enjoy to talk about is the use of our Everbridge network. Down here in the state of Florida, we created, and Connecticut has done the same, and the National Capital Region, we’ve created what’s called a private network. This private network allows people to share messages that they’re sending out to the public. In the state of Florida, we have seven planning regions for emergency management. The state of Connecticut, they have five. These regions encompass several different communities. Several different counties. When a county sends out a message, a neighboring county has the ability to go in and actually see what message that was sent. Was that a message that may impact their county as well?
They can take that message that has already been sent, they can reuse that message to now send out to their population as well. This little network effect allows them to keep in touch with each other, keep an understanding of what’s going on. Keep that situational awareness that we all like to have. It’s great when we publish our situation reports and we pass them from one place to another. How quickly is that report going out? If I submit my situation report out at 9:00 in the morning, and I say that my next one’s going to be at 10:00, and at 9:10 I send out an emergency message to my community, because something just happened in the last five minutes, are my neighboring counties, is the neighboring state, are they going to get these messages or are they going to have to wait another hour or an hour and a half or two hours before they understand what I just sent out? Having this network allows them to see and get this situational awareness.
We get the whole picture from this. There’s different ways to geo-tag my message. What was the area of the community that I sent this to? What was the message I had to send them? We can also do this with various different aspects of our notification system. We have one message, we want to send it out to many different audiences. We can send out to employees, we can send it out to our partner agencies. We can send it out to the media, and we can send it out to the citizens. There’s nothing better, in my mind, than being able to send out one message and everybody gets it at the same time.
It takes away from that person who goes on Facebook and says, “Hey, Mr. County Government, how come I had to hear of this situation on the local news before you told me in person or before you sent out a message?” We’ve all seen that before. We send out a press release, they jump on it, they send it out real quick, they get it out there. Our citizens are wanting to know, how come we haven’t said anything? One message, many audiences, all at the same time. Avoid those problems.
What are the benefits of a large, state-wide notification? Besides the unified messaging, it’s how we get things out there. If I can get people by phone, by email, by text, by cell phone, post to social media, include my hearing impaired, I’ve reached out to a lot more people than I previously could do before. Gone are the days where we had to use those blast fax machines, put out a fax and have it go out to all these different agencies and all these different people. We now have one system, one message. We take that unified message, we send it out to all of the people we need to get it out to. We include our network effect, we include our neighboring communities, we include our neighboring states. We include those people who really need to get that message.
I’m not sure about how all you guys are for staffing. I know I can tell you that the situation I came from, as staff left, it was very difficult to replace them. It’s come a time where the money’s not there to just rehire people right away. What is the time to rehire somebody? Being able to do more with less, more from our system, with less personnel, getting the message out to more people by one person instead of having to dedicate several different people. This is all what the systems should be able to provide you. Can your system integrate with other systems? Are you capable of talking to the different systems you currently have? This is one of my favorite slides.
How do we share our system with the little guys? We all have those little towns and little communities. I like the one up on the top, it’s got a population of 38 people. 20 of them used to be dogs and now it’s only one. 17 cats, and 11 horses. Can tell you, I’ve come across many of those communities. They can’t afford these systems, the robust systems that reach out to their communities and what do their citizens have that they’re capable of reaching out to? Is it an emergency? How do they get the message out there? It’s not something they have the budget for. We all help each other out.
If you’re going back to that Whole Community approach, when the state or the large county can purchase that system, utilizing either their grant funds or some other type of funding, where they can include some of these smaller counties, some of the smaller city governments, to get everybody on board with the same system. Have that capability for that notification, have the network effect help you out. How do you reach out to everybody? At the end of the day, we’re all responsible for everybody, from the small city to the large county, to the very sparsely demographic of across our counties. We still are responsible for all those people. Having a system that we can reach out to all of them is what really matters the most.
The emergency backup system, one thing that we’re proud of down here is the way we sync all of our data. If a person registers in a city, and they’re registered to a city account, their information automatically rolls up to the county. Now the county has the capability to see that person as well, and if it’s a true emergency and the city is unable to send out a message, whether they got hit with some sort of power surge, they don’t have the connectivity, or the staffing just isn’t there yet, the county is able to step in, send out a message on their behalf. Likewise, that information rolls up to the state database as well. Now if the county’s experiencing that problem, or there’s just a catastrophic failure in a certain area, the state has the capability to also send out that message for them based on geographical locations, based on [stape 00:39:29] files, based on people’s profiles, they can send out information to affect everybody who needs to be notified.
Can your system do that? Is that something that it should do? In my opinion, yes. If this is something that’s being sent out globally and this is a system that’s supposed to be provided for everybody, then these should have the capability to send that out, that message.
What is the perfect package? Here’s just a sampling of some of the different things that we have to offer. For critical mass communications, SMART Weather. Is it important to send out weather notifications to the citizens or just to your employees? In Connecticut, we chose all of our partners. Our employees, our chief elected officials, our emergency management staff from across the state, all received the important weather notifications in order for them to be able to then turn around and make the decisions for their communities.
SMART Weather works out well for those of us who don’t have the personnel who can monitor the local National Weather Service forecast, send out those emails. That was one of my roles, where when I was the duty officer for the timeframe that it was assigned to me, if there was a severe weather incident going on, seldom would I get that sleep. You’re sitting there waiting for that next National Weather Service notification to come out. When it comes out, what does it say? How quickly can I get that out to all of our stakeholders? Now, we have a system in place where we make those decisions ahead of time. Again, going back to that Whole Community approach, making our decisions ahead of time. What weather notifications truly matter most?
We decide that ahead of time, we put those in our system ahead of time, and when those actual weather notifications get triggered by the National Weather Service, they go right out to the people they need to go out to. Community engagement. That was that video we just saw. With a simple keyword, “FLPREPARES,” text that to 888777. It can save your life. 350,000 people, 500,000 people all said the same thing. “Yep, I need to know what the state has for me. I’m going to opt into this.” 350,000 people in 24 hours, 500,000 people in two days all decided, “I need this information.” That’s a strong leverage point when you can turn around to your chief of staff or your chief elected official and say, “Look, we’re able to reach out to everybody we can possibly reach out to.”
Create the events. You can go by ZIP code. Have people text in their ZIP code. Trigger it by Zip code areas. Various different methods that you can send out notifications. Again, IPAWS, if you’re a government agency and you’re authorized to use the Integrated Public Alert Warning System, the WEA, you see those amber alerts come out, they all trigger to your cell phone. The EAS messages that scroll across the bottom of your TV screen. That’s an integrated system right within our platform.
How do you manage threat assessments? Continuity of operations, how can you get out to your employees? IT alerting, keeping your systems up and running. Safety connections, how do you keep your employees safe? Do you know where they are? Do you know if they’re in trouble? How can they instantly connect back to you if they are in trouble, if there is a problem? Incident management and then Careconverge for our healthcare side.
One of the biggest parts that I’m sure a lot of people are looking for is how do we make this work? What are the cost savings for a large or state-wide notification system? First you need to ask yourself is how will the system be used. Are you going to use this system for internal notifications, external notifications, both? How are you going to do it? Obviously more is less, right? We all know that. By having more contacts in the system, it’s going to cost me less money. When you’re talking your population wise, when you’re talking the large set of people within your county or within your state, if you have those contacts in there, your white page information, your yellow page information, your 911 data. Whatever data you can put in there.
If you have a good idea of how many people you think ultimately this system is going to be designed for, you can save money based on that. Can I replace other systems that aren’t multipurpose? We’ve seen across the state of the Florida, as well in Connecticut, when they’ve gone to a mass notification system, they were able to get rid of some other smaller systems that did things that were also able to be duplicated within the mass notification system. Take a look at all of the systems you have in place. Are there other things I can get rid of that would be able to be duplicated from this system? If they are, you’re saving money right there.
Where do I get my return on my investment? Faster incident resolution and recovery, saves times and money. Reduced emergency communication costs. Cost cutting in routine activities. Increased public awareness usually equals fewer injuries or fatalities. Improved productivity and efficiency. Lower risks of lawsuit, protection of property, improved reliance tracking and reporting, all of these things help the bottom line. The bottom line is how do I get my money back? Across the state of Florida, having a mass notification system helps with your insurance premiums. With the flood insurance premiums, having ability to notify citizens that the water’s rising, the storm is coming, you need to evacuate, you need to seek shelter. Batten your house up, it helps to affect the rate of insurance for flood insurance. That was one of the other deciding factors going into the large mass notification system.
Again, I hope you guys were able to understand how the system can work for you. Some of the different challenges you may have in day to day communications, and as always, we’re here to help you any way we can to get you off the ground and running. Appreciate your time today.
Michael Scott: Thank you, Brian. We’re going to jump, before we jump into the Q&A, what I’d like to do is just for those of you who are on today and aren’t familiar with Everbridge is just give you a quick two slide overview of who we are. What our mission here at Everbridge is really to, as Brian, the main message, what he’s been trying to cover, is keep people safe in agencies, organizations, states, any type of business running.
In the market, some of you might be familiar with us because we have 3,000 enterprise customers, and then another 8,000 law enforcement agencies that are leveraging Everbridge or [inaudible 00:46:59] solution. In the United States, we have eight of the 10 largest cities and 24 of the top 25 busiest North American airports. As you can see, we’re stretched across every industry and vertical that you can imagine, and we’ve been recognized by a variety of different publications and we’re also the only publicly traded company in our space.
Since Brian went over sort of our package solution, I’m going to skip that slide and jump to the Q&A, as we have about just over 10 minutes now. As a reminder, if you’re looking to ask questions, please do so now. Go to the Q&A function on the GoToWebinar panel. Should be on the right side of your screen. Type in your question, and when you do, just make sure you send it to “All Panelists.” Our first question is “Brian, can you leverage keyword opt-in functionality for any type of event, or if it limited to just severe weather?”
Brian Toolan: No, with the solution that we have in place, you can use a keyword. I’ve seen the city of Tampa just used it for the NCAA championship football game. There’s a county in Florida right now using it for an annual festival. Again, the city of Tampa used it for their annual Gasparilla pirate festival. I’ve seen a few use it for various different events and functions locally. Because it’s an opt-in, people are being driven to that system, being driven to sign up for an actual event. It’s not really considered an emergency notification at that point, you’re triggering the people who need to be notified.
Michael Scott: Thank you, Brian. The next question, from Jack in the audience, he wants to know, “Since you’ve done this twice, Brian, or been a part of it twice, who do you typically need to get in a room to even discuss this type of deployment?”
Brian Toolan: Great question. I just went over this a little while ago. My preference, to be honest with you, is your public information officers, your IT folks, your first responders, whether that’s emergency management, law enforcement, who are going to be your primary users of the system. Generally for your communications out to your public, it’s going to be some sort of law enforcement function, whether it’s a dispatcher from your public safety answering point or some are from within your emergency management fields, sending out notifications.
Who are going to be those primary users? Get the people who are in charge of them together. Your HR folks. If you’re going to import your HR records into the system for employee notifications, have someone from HR. One of the counties in Florida which I thought was a great idea, had their tourism board. They’re using keywords targeted specifically to tourism and the beaches. Some of the different elements that are going on, whether it’s rip currents or things like that. At the beaches, they’re targeting those people. Really, what comes to mind is, who is going to be the audience? Who are you trying to get the messages out to? Who’s responsible for those people? Get that group of folks together.
Michael Scott: Thank you. The next question is from Al in the audience, and he wants to know, “Does Everbridge have template messaging for this type of deployment so we can standardize messaging across multiple jurisdictions and departments?”
Brian Toolan: We do. You can do message templating. It’s under our incident communication platform, where basically you’re creating your incidents ahead of time. They’re becoming a series of drop-drowns. You’re eliminating any human error, you’re getting your message to be consistent each time. Again, when you talk about that unified messaging, we offer several different types of template that you can create, whether it’s a standard template that can be changed each time, or whether it’s a more down in the weeds type template that triggers a certain notification. A missing person, large scale fire, where you know all your variables ahead of time. Your fire department response, the date, the time, but you’re only adding in those very small pieces of information now, which allow your dispatchers to do the job at a much quicker pace. Yes, we offer that, too.
Michael Scott: Thank you, Brian. The next question is from Lisa, and she works for the county sheriff’s office. She wants to know, “Some of the more rural towns on the standard commercial like Google or Bing Maps are not fully drawn out,” meaning they’re missing roads. “With Everbridge, can you upload custom maps that would have the rest of that information?”
Brian Toolan: You can, you can upload custom maps. You can also upload maps with your critical infrastructure points. You can upload those as well. There’s several different types of maps that you can upload that would just be a data layer. You would put your … When we load all your contacts in there, they would just go over your custom map that would have your street names and your naming credentials. Generally, if you have your GIS folks create that map, it’s a simple upload.
Michael Scott: Thank you. Before we go to the next question, just as a reminder, if anyone has any more questions, you can do so by selecting the Q&A function on your GoToWebinar panel and submitting your question to all panelists. We got a couple of these questions, so this is a reminder. Yes, we will be sending out the slides and the recording, so just keep an eye out for those. Unless we get another question this will be our final question for the afternoon. Brian, the final question that we have from Jeff, he wants to know, “Can multiple agencies send messages to those ZIP code opt-ins? Example city, county, police, sheriff.”
Brian Toolan: Yes. With our system, you can have multiple users. Again, when you bring those people to the table ahead of time, you can create roles for them. Your sheriff’s office can have a role where they send out to all those ZIP codes to the keywords, maybe some of them are relative to them. Maybe some of them aren’t. You can kind of fine tune what they should be doing and what they can see. Our system, it’s a completely customizable system. You as the administrator of the system, you set up your roles. You set up your information flow, so to speak, as to what you want people who are going to be using the system to actually do. You can add as many people into the system as you want. If you have a large county and you have 35 or 40 people who will be the users of the system, that’s absolutely fine. If you’re a small county, and you only have two or three people, again, that’s fine as well.
Michael Scott: Thank you, Brian. With that, we’re going to conclude our webinar. I want to thank everyone for joining us today in the adience, and special thanks to Brian for his presentation. If you’re interested in joining any of our other webinars, feel free to go to our resources section and go to “Upcoming Webinars.” Also, if you’d like to request a demo, the link is right there, everbridge.com\request-demo. Additionally, there is a survey after the webinar, so if you’d like to learn a bit more, whether it’s just a demo or a quick call to learn more about some of the things Brian presented today or specific items, we will be sending out a survey that you can fill out and we’ll make sure a product rep follows up with you if you’d like us to do so. Everyone, have a great day and thank you again, Brian.
Brian Toolan: Thank you.