Boston’s Office of Emergency Management upgraded the city’s emergency notification system, AlertBoston, based on citizen feedback.

In addition to sharing messages via phone, text, and email, residents, businesses, and visitors to Boston can now receive need-to-know information in four languages–English, Spanish, French, and Chinese.

While the city frequently sends messages regarding severe weather, parking bans, and street closures using the system, the new capabilities will be helpful in more serious emergencies.

The new system allows officials to target information based on the users’ locations, so only those in the directly affected area will receive the notification. Being able to target messages to specific groups helps ensure that messages are actually read. If AlertBoston users are receiving numerous messages that don’t apply to them, they are more likely to ignore a relevant message in the future. So, the new geographic targeting system helps ensure important announcements actually reach the right audience.

“AlertBoston has long provided an easy and secure method for being notified during an emergency, and the improvements to AlertBoston reflect the city’s commitment to ensuring all residents receive timely, vital information in a format and language accessible to them,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

According to a release from the mayor’s office, the AlertBoston system was developed by a company called CodeRED, a provider of alert systems to cities and towns throughout the United States. CodeRED has a mobile alert app that can be downloaded for free, and allows visitors who are enrolled in their local alert programs at home to receive AlertBoston notifications in Boston.

Federal agencies, cities, and states across the country have been updating their emergency response systems lately. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate released the Next-Generation Incident Command System, a Web-based platform that can be accessed on mobile devices that allows first responders at an incident to communicate with remote experts. Earlier this month, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation prepared to fund and expand 911 emergency services at the insistence of the Federal Communications Commission.


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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs