Our See Something, Say Something World

September 10, 2011

Heading into the 10 year anniversary of the largest terrorist attack on US, we learn there may be another attack planned to explode vehicles during the memorial weekend, in DC or NYC.  An informant claims that  2 or more men, reportedly dispatched by Al Qaeda, left Afghanistan and entered the United States with the intent to detonate bombs hidden inside cars or trucks.

In New York and Washington DC, the public has been put on a cautionary-heightened alert.  Extra police are on patrol.  Roadblocks and bomb-sniffing dogs are on the streets.  Mayor Bloomberg is urging people to go about their normal business, but says, if you see something, say something.

We hope this intelligence report was a false alarm and no harm comes this weekend.  But the beefed up security and the call for public assistance is a prime example of the new world we live in.  Sudden attacks are possible and some security experts say even likely.  There will be more terrorist attacks, and the public is being asked to actively participate in Public Safety.

At the Ground Zero location a few months ago, Mayor Bloomberg heralded the forthcoming arrival of a new federal mobile emergency notification system, called PLAN (Personal Localized Alert Network).  PLAN is designed to allow emergency communication during major disasters, by vibrating your phone, sounding special ringtones and transmitting short text messages to PLAN-compatible mobile phones.  The design for PLAN began back in 2005, before even the first iPhone was released in mid-2007.  The PLAN designers had a goal to create a way to get a message out by broadcasting the alert to mobile phones, versus point to point text messaging.  But how valuable is it to get an alert message that is so short it is not actionable?

Would PLAN have helped this weekend, to warn people about a new, possible attack on Ground Zero?  PLAN is not yet available, but even if it was, it would be of limited use, given its one-way communication design. If you See Something, you can’t Say Something with PLAN.

ELERTS strongly agrees that the future of Public Safety depends on involving the general public.  Our watchful eyes can make a tremendous difference when we report what we see.  The message from the federal government and transportation sector is exactly right.  If you See Something, Say Something.

ELERTS is a free app for smartphones that makes this slogan actionable.  People can discretely and quickly send photos and text, to report what they see.  And personalized, location-based instructions can be sent to phones with ELERTS, to help people get out of harm’s way.  ELERTS is the right tool to realize the goals of the SSSS slogan.

See Something, Say Something. This is our new world and our future shared responsibility.

ELERTS. We put the “public” in Public Safety.


Crowdsourced Situational Awareness

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