In response to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Google launched it’s new Public Alerts service ahead of schedule. On Monday evening, the company announced its new emergency alerting service designed to highlight natural disaster and emergency warnings in conjunction with related searches on Google and Google Maps.
Google describes its service as “a new platform for disseminating emergency messages such as evacuation notices for hurricanes, and everyday alerts such as storm warnings.” Alert details will initially come from the US National Weather Service and the US Geological Survey covering weather, public safety, and earthquake events.
Google says its current list of alerting partners is small. However, it indicates future localized alerts may become available with the cooperation of local public safety agencies across the nation. Google is encouraging citizens to contact their local emergency management agency and ask them to share alert information in a “web-friendly” format (i.e. the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP)).
Local agencies can pursue having their alerts issued through Google by taking the following steps:
- Ensure agency alerts can be translated into the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP 1.2) standard (typically through a commercial public alerting tool)
- Validate feed and CAP protocols using Google’s validation tool
- Complete this form initiating a Google review of the agency’s request
We applaud Google’s efforts here and suspect this will grow into another important channel for alerting the public. What do you think? We’d love to hear your opinion.