The Technology Behind Fighting California’s Fires & Other Disasters

(Page 2 of 2)

collecting more data, and people are constantly connected via mobile devices. So rapid communication can potentially save more lives and livelihoods, the company says.

Everbridge has been concentrating on growing its customer base and expanding outside the United States. The company says its revenue has increased by more than 30 percent each year since 2015, to reach $104.4 million in 2017, when Everbridge reported a net loss of $19.3 million. Seeking to grow its international customer base, Everbridge has been making acquisitions, including a $33.6 million bid in February for Norwegian rival Unified Messaging Systems (UMS). The companies announced in April that the deal had closed.

Zamora says Everbridge’s acquisition in 2015 of San Francisco-based Nixle spurred his agency to bring the company on to manage its AlertSF channel. Nixle allowed residents to sign up in seconds with a text message rather than by going online, he says.

In addition to Everbridge, Zamora says San Francisco uses a virtual emergency operations center, or WebEOC, and makes use of a number of other technology tools, including:

—the ArcGIS mapping and analytics software from Redlands, CA-based ESRI.

—Los Angeles, CA-based ReddiNet’s communications network linking hospitals and other healthcare providers with each other and with law enforcement.

—Denver, CO-based Nusura’s product Simulation Deck, which allows emergency management teams to run realistic disaster-response drills in a simulated Internet environment where they can send messages via social media that are only seen by the participants in the exercise.

Zamora says San Francisco’s emergency management agency is also involved in a pilot project with One Concern, a startup founded by former Stanford students that uses artificial intelligence to predict which parts of a city will be most damaged by earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Everbridge’s Mouline says planning is the most important element in an effective disaster response. To help keep their employees safe and their operations running, he says, businesses can store information not only about the physical locations where staffers usually work, but also about the areas they drive through to get there, where their children go to school, where their relatives live, and their itineraries when they travel. These become critical regions to keep an eye on for potential dangers, in addition to the fixed workplaces of the business, he says.

Mouline acknowledges that most technology-based emergency management tools rely on a functioning Internet or telecommunications channels to do any good. Everbridge copes with possible disruptions of service by using multiple routes to get messages to endangered residents, businesses, and emergency response teams. The company uses texts, push notifications, e-mails, voice messages, landlines, FAX, and other means, he says.

“In most cases, something will break,” Mouline says. But unless there’s a breakdown of all the communications infrastructure, he says, chances are that one of the messages will get through. “We haven’t seen it happen yet that everything is broken.”

Wildfire photo credit: Depositphotos; Copyright: Binty

Single PageCurrently on Page: 1 2 previous page