Hurricane Emergency Response System

In Tulsa, we generally know when a tornado is coming and how it’s going to track within about a 90 minute window.

With today’s technology there is NO REASON not to be able to place automated telephone calls to EVERYONE in Tulsa (Dallas, Little Rock, etc) within 90 minutes. Lindi from InformationWeek’s TechWebCast has reminded me by phone more than once that I have signed up for a session and not to forget to attend. THAT gets my attention EVERY time. Email reminders are too easy to dismiss. And she knows this, we’ve talked about it.

When a nation is wringing it’s hands over “How do we notify lots of people simultaneously?” You work with what you’ve got! Either deploy emergency broadcast radios to everyone (lots of holes in that plan) or you use what most every household in America has – a television or a phone. And, while we can’t magically make every television in a target area turn on (or if we can… black helicopters…) we CAN make most phones ring (be they landline or cellular).

With a hurricane you have a similar situation… lots of lead time, a general idea of where it might go, and you can be reasonably sure of the areas of immediate concern. Phone them!

Why is this such a hard problem to solve? I’m sure the switches are sufficient to allow ringing 1M phones in 90 minutes (or upgraded for “just in case”). That’s 185 calls/second and assuming 20 seconds to play your warning you’d need to be placing roughly 3,100 calls per second to get to everyone. Of course, you have to accomodate for windy voice mail greetings esp at night. So, pump it up to 5,000 calls per second. I still think that’s within reason if you consider how many people are on cell phones in traffic at peak… Yeah, this is easily doable.

Straw man’s standing. Someone come knock him down.

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