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Improving notification and call-up of key players in emergencies through use of a commercial emergency notification system

Holly J. Carpenter, MS, David A. Edwards, PhD


As a disaster unfolds, emergency management agencies are responsible for conveying critical information to the community of responders and affected parties to protect life, safety, and property. Automated notification systems provide a solution to the problem of getting information out to recipients rapidly. In early 2006, the Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management agreed to be the test department for the County’s new automated notification system Communicator!® NXT. This study measures and evaluates the system’s effectiveness from the perspective of people who received notifications during a County Flood Exercise in 2008. The system was proven to be of value in terms of getting critical information out quickly. Most people surveyed responded favorably to receiving notifications. Key issues included the following: (i) the need to balance the conciseness of messages with more useful content and (ii) the intelligibility of text-to-speech messaging. A need for future exploration of system functionality was discovered. Additionally, it was learned that the system needs regular testing and personnel need training to reveal the limitations and nuisances so that end users can provide input allowing modifications of the system to better meet their needs. A need for further education for message receivers was also identified so that end users can get the benefit of more accurate summary reports for confirmation of message receipt.


automated notification, emergency notification system, text-to-speech

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