Emergency Managers Expanding Communication Channels to Increase Public Safety Awareness

Emergency Managers Expanding Communication Channels to Increase Public Safety
                                  Awareness

National Study Finds Concerted Effort to Meet Diverse Public Communication
Needs, Address Complacency with Broader Approaches

PR Newswire

UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill., Oct. 15, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill., Oct. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As mobile technologies
and social media channels continue to penetrate Americans' communications
behaviors, emergency managers are working diligently to ensure emergency
communications keep pace. This is one of the findings from the 2013 Federal
Signal Public Safety Survey, which examines some of the greatest challenges
currently faced by emergency managers. The survey, following on the heels of
September's National Emergency Preparedness Month, comes as recent tragedies
in Yosemite National Park and Aurora, Colo., remind Americans of the
unpredictable and devastating effectsman-made and natural disasters can have.

Now in its fourth year, and conducted again by Zogby, the annual report has
traditionally surveyed the general public on safety awareness and emergency
preparedness attitudes and behaviors. For the first time, however, this year's
survey shifts the conversation by asking emergency managers about the most
significant challenges they face and the measures they are taking to address
them.

"Last year's Federal Signal Public Safety Survey showed that complacency and a
lack of safety awareness are common public perception when it comes to
emergency preparedness and response," said Joe Wilson, president of the
Industrial Systems Division, Safety and Security Group at Federal Signal.
"This year, we wanted to assess the complexity of the issues emergency
managers face and uncover the actions they are taking to find effective
solutions."

Facing the Facts
As the technology landscape continues shifting, the American public's
communication methods are increasing and gradually becoming more
mobile-oriented. The 2013 study showed that nearly one-in-three (28 percent)
emergency managers identify the public's varied communication preferences as
the greatest challenge they face. These challenges include effectively
reaching a growing, older population with many special language and other
needs. For those with hearing and vision impairments, physical limitations
and varying debilities, communication preferences may extend beyond
traditional landline phone calls and email, to include text messages and
social media channels and more.

"The increase in the number of communication layers emergency managers are up
against has drastically added to the complexity of developing an effective,
all-encompassing communications program," said Wilson. "Age, physical
disabilities and cultural differences are human factors that they have always
had to recognize and take into consideration, but rapid mobile and social
media technology growth has only compounded the issue — making it not only
challenging to reach community members wherever they are, but increasingly
difficult to drive a sense of urgency."

As communication preferences continue to change and diversify, emergency
managers must consider a layered approach that can reach all community members
effectively and efficiently. That includes not only enabling new technologies,
but successfully integrating these with traditional communication methods in a
way that drives citizens — of all ages, needs and communication preferences —
to action.

Driving a Public Sense of Urgency
Community members trust emergency managers to provide them with the tools they
need during an emergency, making it critical that they leave no stone unturned
when it comes to effective communication. More than half of respondents (58
percent) trust local and regional government officials to ensure sufficient
public safety standards, communication and planning, according to the 2012
Federal Signal Public Safety Survey.

The 2012 survey results found that less than one half (47 percent) of
community members would take action based on a potential severe weather
warning. It comes as no surprise, then, that nearly one-in-four (22 percent)
emergency managers said that apathetic community members are their greatest
challenge, according to the 2013 study. In fact, the study found only 20
percent of emergency managers feel that their community members are very aware
of existing alerting and notification systems in their area. 

"An emergency manager's goal is to generate 100 percent awareness among the
community," said Wilson. "It is critical that they not only ensure that
families and community members have an emergency plan in place, but that they
understand all of the possibilities for receiving real-time messages in
emergency situations — from siren notifications, to a text message or email
alert, and much more."

In order to best reach community members, emergency managers need to consider
the places where each of their citizens seeks information.As expected, one of
the toughest challenges for emergency managers is the cost associated with new
tools and equipment. The 2013 survey found that for 75 percent of emergency
managers, the greatest deterrent to updating emergency communication systems
is their budget (75 percent). Yet, there are many ways to interact with the
public that are simple and cost effective, many of which emergency managers
have already embraced. According to the 2013 Federal Signal Public Safety
Survey:

  o81 percent are promoting their activities and programs at community events
    and meetings
  o72 percent are communicating with their community directly though emails,
    direct mail, and phone calls
  o67 percent are communicating with the public through a community website

The Need to Be More "Social"
New technology enables community-wide engagement and can help drive emergency
responsiveness among citizens — often at the touch of a button.This presents
new opportunities for emergency managers to expand their reach. Only 55
percent of emergency managers are currently using Facebook as part of their
alerting and notification system, and three-in-ten currently are not providing
educational tools through websites and social media.

"By evaluating modern technology, emergency managers can supplement
communications plans with new ways to take a more comprehensive outreach
approach and ultimately connect with more community members," said Wilson.

For more information on the 2013 Federal Signal Public Safety Survey, visit
http://www.alertnotification.com/.

About the Survey
Zogby International was commissioned by Federal Signal to conduct a
nationwide, live operator telephone survey of 200 EMS decision makers, or
emergency managers. All surveys were completed Aug. 1-2, 2013. A sampling of
Zogby International's emergency manager panel, which is representative of the
emergency manager population of the U.S., was invited to participate.

About Federal Signal
Federal Signal Corporation (NYSE: FSS) enhances the safety, security and
well-being of communities and workplaces around the world. Founded in 1901,
Federal Signal is a leading global designer and manufacturer of products and
total solutions that serve municipal, governmental, industrial and commercial
customers. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., with manufacturing facilities
worldwide, the Company operates three groups: Safety and Security Systems,
Environmental Solutions and Fire Rescue. For more information on Federal
Signal, visit: http://www.federalsignal.com.

Media Contacts
Jamie Veal                   Meredith Obiala
Hill+Knowlton Strategies     Hill+Knowlton Strategies
+1 312-475-5901              +1 312-255-3039
Jamie.Veal@hkstrategies.com Meredith.Obiala@hkstrategies.com

SOURCE Federal Signal Corporation

Website: http://www.federalsignal.com
 
Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.