A section of Mexico City is successfully using AtHoc technology to issue a warning when an earthquake is about to occur, and many lives have been saved by AtHoc’s SARMEX alert receiver. An expanded all-hazard alert system has recently been implemented in the borough of Iztapalapa, where 1.8 million residents were affected by a heavy storm very recently. Now, this population can take precautions in advance, when the AtHoc system alerts them to risks such as dangerous rainfall and other severe weather, landslides, sanitation issues, unclean water and air, or dangerous UV exposure.
This blog was written by Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at AtHoc, Efraim Petel.
AtHoc is honored to be a central part of Iztapalapa’s internationally renowned emergency preparedness and crisis management network. Given the challenges of Mexico City’s unique combination of altitude, population, geographical range, and mountainous terrain, the Borough of Iztapalapa’s confidence in our capabilities is gratifying.
I have visited the modern dispatch center that manages the system, and was impressed by the level of preparedness for various types of emergencies, and the mastering of the art of public alerting as to what to announce and when – and how to communicate with and direct staff members. These protocols are ideally hosted in the AtHoc Crisis Communications and Interactive Warning System.
There is another aspect to this relationship that is easy to overlook when one is concentrating on the risks that come from fires, infrastructure failures, earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and floods. Language can be every bit as much of a threat to communication during disaster as is a poorly designed or integrated solution.
Multiple language integration – not just language support – needs to be part of any crisis communications deployment. Here is why:
Alerts can be broadcast in any language – automatically, based on the situation, the audience, and the preparedness workflow in use
Staff can develop workflow and alerts using the system in the language that is most natural – even if that language is not North American English
Organizations and governments operating by mandate in multiple languages can reach people quickly, without worrying about the confusion that comes from substantial numbers of affected individuals not understanding the situation or why they are expected to do
Response, containment, and recovery can be quickly organized and coordinated across international boundaries – especially when the system is already versed in the emergency preparedness requirements on either side of a border
High-damage situations such as earthquakes, in which the local resources are likely to be overwhelmed, can be quickly and automatically linked to international responders who can arrive sooner and coordinate more effectively to preserve lives and property
Another form of multilingualism involves the range of communications devices that need to be used to reach all personnel. Different countries have different requirements for radio spectrum allotment. Different agencies prefer different types of radios. Individuals might only have mobile phones, or be reliant on sirens to know that something is amiss.
Iztapalapa Dispatch Center
The ability to integrate quickly and transparently with local regulations and preferences is essential for crisis communications to operate effectively. It is all part of making it as simple as possible to connect people with the information they need when the situation is chaotic and time is of the essence.
Iztapalapa’s first responders will use AtHoc across the city’s emergency infrastructure, including mobile devices, desktops, IP phones, social media, public address systems, sirens, two-way radios, and more. When an emergency arises, AtHoc’s ability to communicate across language, technology, and devices is a critical advantage.
These capabilities are something we have worked to build into the core of AtHoc’s solutions. It is also why we are glad to be part of BlackBerry, a leader in secure, global communications. When it comes to crisis communications, no one should expect or accept anything less.