During an emergency situation, one of the most critical elements to keep citizens safe and avoid chaos or confusion is quick and effective information dispersal.
Understanding the importance of this issue, it was recently announced that the New Jersey State Police Department in conjunction with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management have undertaken an initiative to disseminate critical information on a large scale to local residents through text messaging.
By taking this step, the department will be able to provide New Jersey citizens with real-time information to ultimately assist authorities solve crimes and suggest when emergency precautions need to be taken.
For example, the service will relay information related to public safety such as missing person reports and crime information to mobilize grassroots participation. News related to emergency management such as evacuation, the current state of natural disasters and releases from federal emergency organizations will be included in the program as well. Other information will include traffic reports so that citizens can choose alternate routes when traveling.
While this automated service will indeed provide greater convenience and support to the community, the major drawback of this system is that it is unilinear. Therefore, if a citizen does not understand the message or requires clarification or additional information, he or she cannot simply text back and will likely need to jump through several hoops before reaching the proper authority figure.
Consequently, it would greatly benefit federal and local organizations to replace an automated system with a more comprehensive solution afforded through a third-party answering service. By taking this measure, knowledgeable service staff members can not only disseminate valuable information, but also engage with citizens on a deeper level to ensure that messages are effectively processed.