Be Active in Getting Warned!
May 31, 2013
J. McLellan 267-2542
Dane County’s warning system has evolved with changes in citizen’s communication and work habits. Some of the driving factors to expand the warning system’s capabilities have been the ever increasing use of social media, cell phones, and email. While the recent upgrades to Dane County’s warning system allow emergency warning information to be spread across a broader spectrum of technology, they also highlight the need for citizens and organizations to become active consumers of the warning system.
Dane County’s warning system is comprised of many components; some are owned by Dane County, some are contracted for by Dane County, and some are managed by other organizations but can be utilized by Dane County. The recent warning system upgrades have both expanded the number of components in the system and provided a central warning interface to integrate the activation of the broader system. Components of the warning system include:
- Social media (Dane County Emergency Management on Facebook and @DaneCountyEM on Twitter).
- Email notifications.
- A downloadable computer application called Bambox.
- Wireless Emergency Alerts (direct to all cellphones within a certain area).
- Emergency telephone notification (ETN).
- NOAA Weather Radio.
- Broadcast television and radio.
- Emergency Alerting System (EAS).
- Outdoor warning sirens.
Citizens can still receive critical life saving information through traditional modes of notification such as NOAA weather radios, EAS, local broadcast television and radio, and the outdoor warning sirens. To ensure Dane County’s warning system can keep up with their changing lifestyles and work habits, citizens must actively:
- Register cell phone numbers,
- Register Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone numbers (which includes telephone service providers such as Charter, ATT Uverse, Vonage, etc.),
- Register Email addresses, and
- Download the computer application.
Critical Information for VOIP and cellular telephone users:
Dane County’s ETN database of telephone numbers is comprised of traditional land-line telephone numbers (listed and unlisted) and those telephone numbers that have been registered by their owners with Dane County Emergency Management. VOIP telephone numbers are NOT included in the ETN database because there is no available database to draw these numbers from nor associate them with a physical address. This means many individuals and organizations who rely on VOIP or cellular telephones will not receive ETN calls unless they register these telephone numbers with Dane County Emergency Management!
Dane County Emergency Management (DCEM) encourages all individuals AND organizations to build warning notification procedures into their emergency plans. To start:
- Visit DCEM’s Warning Page (http://countyofdane.com/emergency/warning.aspx) to identify the different modes of warning and each of their potential uses. This is critical because warnings for haz-mat releases will be different than severe weather.
- If there are warning modes that require you / your organization to register telephone numbers and emails, click on the link at the top of the DCEM Warning webpage (http://dane.alertingsolutions.net/getCurrentAlerts.action) to register them.
NOTE – Currently the registration process is designed to work using Google’s Chrome web browser. You may encounter issues when using other web browsers; this is being addressed.
Organizations with large quantities of telephone numbers or email addresses should consider the following when deciding which ones to register:
- When VOIP systems receive a large number of telephone calls coming from the same source (the ETN call center), many of these VOIP telephone systems “shut out” the ETN calls or worse, shut down the whole telephone system! The number of calls it will take to trigger this will vary by VOIP service provider and VOIP system hardware.
- Many email spam filters may block warning system emails because they come in a large volume from the same sender at the same time.
- Ensure the phone numbers and emails will reach personnel who will know what to do with the information they receive.
- Ensure the phone numbers can be answered when called – do not use numbers that will go to a telephone menu.
Organizations are encouraged to work with their information technology representatives to ensure that VOIP systems won’t be compromised nor emails blocked. As well, their assistance may required to install the desktop warning application “Bambox” on networked computers and to ensure the proper firewall settings are in place.
If you have any further questions about signing up with the Dane County Warning System, please contact Dane County Emergency Management at 266-4330 or EmergencyManagement@countyofdane.com.