Facebook Feature Amplifies Emergency Communications Efforts

Hurricane Isaac Flood Evacuation
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Facebook local alerts feature makes it easier for local governments and public safety agencies to relay vital information to citizens during emergencies.

SILICON VALLEY, CALIFORNIA — Over the summer, Facebook announced they would be expanding their local alerts feature to any eligible Facebook page.

The feature has been used on a trial basis since 2018 and allows local governments and public safety organizations to post “urgent, need-to-know information when it directly affects people in their communities” as local alerts, which are then amplified by Facebook.

Shane Reichardt, public information officer for the County of Riverside Emergency Management Department, identified on Facebook as RivCoReady, said the tool recently helped the agency reach a higher percentage of the population to alert them to a flood evacuation.

“People are more connected than ever, yet, at times, it can be harder to reach everyone in the community during emergencies,” Reichardt said in an interview with Facebook. “Local alerts helps the County of Riverside reach more people with our messages. Combined with other alerts we send, Facebook’s local alerts is a great tool to help us deliver vital information to people who need it most.”

Local alerts can be used for many different types of incidents, including:

Approved pages can set the target audience of the local alert, preventing non-affected individuals from seeing the alert on their Facebook, based on location.

To be authorized as a local alert sender, leaders who are in charge of a Facebook Page associated with a city or county government, local emergency management, fire department or local law enforcement should fill out this form.

Learn more about how to improve emergency communications with social media:

8 Best Practices for Emergency Communications on Social Media

Access resources to help communities prepare effectively for emergencies:

Emergency Public Information Kit

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