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Colorado emergency alert systems still have room for improvement

While a successful mass dialing will only reach 50 percent of users, the Colorado alert system still needs to improve in several areas.
While a successful mass dialing will only reach 50 percent of users, the Colorado alert system still needs to improve in several areas.

Emergency authorities in Colorado will be the first ones to tell you that the statewide alert systems could be improved. Flawed data, human error and a lackluster effort to get residents without landlines to register their phone numbers are all contributing factors, said a Denver Post article.

Authorities said that the alerts could be improved by taking more personal control in updating the systems, such as updating phone numbers more frequently or sending out reminder post cards to residents urging them to register their cell phone numbers. However, they added that even with updated contacts, the odds of all residents being notified before an emergency were not very high.

In March, for example, a wildfire tore through Jefferson County and killed three people, including one woman who should have received a notification to evacuate, but never did. Because of a data glitch, the overall number of how many residents should have been contacted is unknown.

A normal success rate for emergency mass dialing is just 50 percent, according to reports gathered by the Denver Post. To that effect though, reverse-dialing warning systems aren't capable of sending an email, phone or text alert unless the user registers their number with the county's emergency management office. In Boulder County, for instance, home to 225,000 adults, just 12,925 have registered their mobiles, according to county officials.

Businesses should ensure that their employees are fully prepared on all levels for any emergency, be it a natural disaster or otherwise. By ensuring that a business continuity plan is in place, no one will be uninformed about the proper evacuation route or which hot site to go to. Communication is a necessary aspect before, during and after an emergency.