Press Release

July 30, 2014

Emergency Managers Will Have an Easier, More Efficient Solution to Notify Citizens in Harm’s Way

Local Alerting Platform by The Weather Company To Provide
Local Safety Through Global Reach

ATLANTA (July 29, 2014) – Metro Atlanta made national headlines when a January snow storm crippled the city’s roadways and created an epic traffic jam. Motorists were forced to sleep in their cars, take shelter at local businesses, or walk home by foot on icy streets. School children spent the night in classrooms. The blame game ensued.

Why did this happen when the weather forecast and alerts accurately warned of these conditions? Unfortunately, no capability existed to create and distribute road issues and other local impact alerts to advise citizens of actions to take based on their or their family's current locations. Great information exists from federal and local governments and agencies, but it needs context to be effective. It also requires scale to combat low usage.  

With the largest reach of any U.S. media company and the power to forecast for the most location points around the world, The Weather Company hopes to solve this problem with its upcoming local alerting platform. The company will use its large-scale distribution and weather expertise to create a contextually relevant, national solution in partnership with local officials.

This localized platform will enable state, local and private authorities to manage and distribute alerts via The Weather Channel® properties and existing local distribution points. Local emergency managers will be able to:

1)      Evaluate the incident – determine if and how a weather event, such as a tornado, or a non-weather situation like a road closure, will impact citizens.

2)     Localize the alert – provide localized, actionable information before, during and after an event with relevant messages geo-targeted to specific areas.

3)     Communicate the impact – reach hundreds of millions of people immediately across web, mobile, TV, radio, social channels, and local sites via an API.

“Keeping the public safe and informed in times of weather emergencies is a key mission at The Weather Company,” said Bryson Koehler, executive vice president and chief information officer at The Weather Company. “Information is power, but effective communication of that information is critical. We have the scale and accuracy to help give the public context to these messages that can mean the difference between life and death.”

The Problem … Solved

The United States offers its citizens the best emergency alerting capabilities in the world. The National Weather Service (NWS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ensure national coverage through alerts and the IPAWS system. However most local communities do not have a local alerting system to integrate with IPAWS and are interested in a national solution with large scale distribution that can enable officials to create alerts and notify citizens. The new local alerting platform will work with these services to overcome current issues:

  • Current issue: Many alerts cover large areas or do not provide local details to best serve the public. This leads to over-alerting, then alert fatigue and apathy.  
    Solution: The platform allows for personalization, to create localized, actionable alerts for local citizens using relevant messages geo-targeted to specific areas.
  • Current issue: There is no universal interface to create alerts. Local areas must buy or build one, leading to low adoption by officials and low public awareness.
    Solution: The platform will integrate across platforms. Managers can publish to web and mobile, but also Facebook, Twitter and any local site via an API. The simpler format saves time, increases efficiency and reduces costs.
  • Current issue: Alerts do not include non-weather events or how weather might impact infrastructure, transport, etc.
    Solution: The platform helps managers determine if weather will impact an area, such as school closings or utility repair. It also shows non-weather events (chemical spill, roadway impacts, wildfires, gas leaks, shelter information, etc.)

  • Current issue: There is no global answer. Outside the U.S., many countries only have rudimentary alerting abilities or none at all.
    Solution: With The Weather Company’s global reach and forecasting ability, this platform extends the current ability and depth of alerts beyond the U.S.

The Future of Alerting

The Weather Company connects consumers through hundreds of media outlets and billions of devices. In 2013 alone, it delivered 150,000+ weather alerts to two-thirds of U.S. adults – more than any other organization. With large reach and strong partnerships with organizations such as the NWS and the American Red Cross, The Weather Company can provide an effective solution to deliver public safety information.

This continues The Weather Company’s effort to raise severe weather awareness and improve U.S. preparedness. The company first announced the product July 29 at the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative Demo Day. The event showcased tools and technology to help survivors, first responders, and governments during emergencies.

The local alerting product will be piloted by the end of 2014. For more detail on how it can provide a better service to help keep the public safe, email