If you don't yet own a smartphone, chances are you will soon. Statistics show 55 percent of new mobile phones sold in the United States are smartphones, while the number of global smartphone users is expected to approach 2 billion by 2015.
Taking advantage of the technological trend, a new emergency alerting and management app has been launched that may help responders be better prepared when arriving at the scene of a major incident.
ELERTS' two-way mobile communication app can help deliver critical information gathered from official sources and eyewitness reports, which can aid both responders and the public.
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The crowdsourced alert system combines smartphone technology, social media, multimedia content and networking to offer details on incidents from a variety of sources.
"One example is allowing fire officials to see photographs from witnesses at the scene of the emergency before they get there," said Ed English, Chief Executive Officer of ELERTS.
"Usually, when you go into a situation, you're going in blind. You could always be better prepared and better equipped for the particular type of emergency event with the benefit of being able to use the eyes and the ears of the general public who are already on the scene."
Users can choose alert feeds by type — such as earthquake, fire and flood — and contribute eyewitness reports with photos, descriptions and GPS location.
ELERTS also draws its emergency intelligence from a diverse range of local and federal organizations including FEMA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Geological Survey.
The system is able to share major reports via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook among a national network of first responders/organizations, while a management console is being developed that is geared specifically toward public safety organizations.
The console is described as a dashboard-like command center that provides the ability to gather, analyze and distribute emergency information before, during and after an emergency event.
"ELERTS is a simple solution that first responders can use to help them be safer," said Chris Russo, Founder and Executive Vice President of ELERTS, and a Mass.-based firefighter.
"What it can do is help change the way services are deployed and help with training both post- and pre-event."
ELERTS provides mobile applications for real time, reliable emergency notifications, responses and urgent information to people and organizations in need. For more details, visit www.elerts.com.