Recent natural disasters have shown how important emergency notification has become in alerting people to upcoming dangers and coordinating relief.
In Utah we face flooding concerns, while other areas of the country have dealt with raging wildfires and tornadoes.
One of the most important ways a community had of notifying people of emergency situations used to be reverse 911. Basically, police or firefighters could call selected homes in a community and warn them to prepare or evacuate, depending on the situation.
However, in recent years the surge of cell phones and other electronic communication devices have led people to cancel landlines, which were automatically part of the 911 system.
Now, in order for the system to function, residents have to register their mobile phone numbers with authorities.
In Layton, safety officials are addressing this problem. They have set up a link on the city's website, www.laytoncity.org, where residents can register three phone numbers that will be called in case of an emergency. Officials also plan to use Twitter and Facebook to encourage residents to register their numbers. They also have incorporated social media into their notification plans to alert residents in time of emergencies.
We encourage all cities, if they aren't doing so, to follow Layton's example.
We are in the midst of an electronic information revolution. There is no excuse for emergency notification not to improve under these conditions.