PEARL – Gov. Phil Bryant and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency unveiled two new public alerting tools aimed at helping citizens prepare for emergencies, and warn them of impending threats directly through their smartphones.
During a news conference held at MEMA headquarters in Pearl this morning, Gov. Bryant and MEMA Director Robert Latham demonstrated MEMA’s new mobile phone app that allows the public to find emergency information, preparedness tools, weather radar, along with several other options like statewide highway information.
“The number one way to lessen the potential impacts from an emergency is to be prepared. Have a family communication plan, stock a disaster supply kit, and know where you will go if you need to evacuate,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “Utilizing technology is a smart way to get important information to the public quickly, and this new app will help Mississippians stay informed before and after emergencies.”
The new mobile app is free and available to iPhone and Android phone users by searching for MEMA in the iPhone or Android app store.
“We’re excited to be able to release our app because we live in a mobile society, and putting lifesaving information at the fingertips of our residents is a great way to inform and protect the entire family, regardless of where they are,” said Latham.
The other new initiative is the Wireless Emergency Alert system, which allows emergency text messages to be sent by MEMA, county emergency managers and the National Weather Service to every enabled smartphone phone in an area without its user having to download an app or subscribe to a service. The messages could include extreme weather warnings, local emergencies requiring evacuation or other immediate action, Amber Alerts and Presidential Alerts during national emergency situations.
As an example, if a tornado warning is issued for Rankin County every enabled cell phone in the county would hear a special tone and receive a short text message warning of the threat. Phones will only receive the message one time. No matter where you travel in the country, if you have an enabled phone you will receive a text alert for the local area you are in.
“This WEA program will save lives, no doubt about it,” said Latham. “The fact that you can get an automatic alert no matter where you are is remarkable, but you need to know what you will do before you receive the alert.”
The WEA is also free and does not even require users to have a text messaging plan. Cell phone customers can contact their providers to see if their device is WEA enabled, or you can go to http://www.fema.gov/wireless-emergency-alerts to learn more.
For more information about emergency preparedness, visit www.msema.org, or download the new MEMA mobile application in the Android or iPhone app store.
The public is encouraged to follow MEMA on Twitter and Facebook for updates.
Video of today’s event is available on MEMA’s website through MEMA’s YouTube page, which can be accessed at www.msema.org.