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Notify citizens during a power failure

A power failure can be catastrophic for an organization, especially if it lacks a unified communications system. During a power outage, citizens should receive regular updates about the incident, and when it will be resolved. Without a unified communications system to deliver timely, accurate notifications, however, an organization could struggle to reach its target audience.


How does your organization notify citizens during a power failure? Implementing a communications strategy to connect with citizens throughout the lifecycle of this incident is crucial to protect your organization and its constituents.


For example, consider how the City of Saskatoon communicated with citizens during a power failure on Jan. 5, 2014. According to News Talk 650 CKOM, city officials sent two service alerts to notify citizens about the power outage, and the first service alert was sent roughly an hour after the outage began. But these officials later noted that their response to the incident was insufficient, and that plenty of work still needs to be done to ensure that all of their communications reach their target audiences.


Here are some of the areas that Saskatoon officials will evaluate to improve their critical communications strategy:


1. The effectiveness of critical communications – When the first service alert was sent, Saskatoon officials did not offer citizens a timeline on when power would be restored. Going forward, city leaders are promising a more robust communications strategy, and will try to deliver fast, accurate updates until power outages and other incidents are fully resolved.


2. How to provide consistent support in an emergency – Thousands of Saskatoon citizens were left without power. Meanwhile, Saskatoon Light & Power, the city’s utility provider, had an emergency call center with the capacity to handle only 20 calls at a time. As a result, this call center was unable to assist many citizens who required emergency support, as these people could not reach live representatives due to high call volumes.


3. The importance of frequent website and social media updates – The City of Saskatoon website featured some information about the service alerts, but without a strong social media presence, city officials struggled to deliver critical updates to their constituents. By leveraging social media in emergencies, Saskatoon officials can monitor these critical events in real-time, and share important updates.


In the future, Saskatoon will use Everbridge as its unified communications system, which will allow citizens to receive critical alerts on their cell phones. With a unified communications system in place, an organization can consistently deliver important updates to citizens during power failures and other critical events.

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