LENSAlert touches residents where they live (literally)
- By Sara Friedman
- Aug 18, 2017
In Louisville, Ky., city officials monitor weather conditions for over 400 square miles in Jefferson County. Using Rave Mobile Safety technology to power the Louisville emergency notification system called LENSAlert, they can send targeted notifications to residents' phones about severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, tornadoes, snowstorms and air quality.
LENSAlert can send out messages through text, email, voice calls, Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds. It has also been integrated with If This Then That (IFTTT), a digital service that allows users to set conditional triggers to deliver specific actions.
In February the city’s Air Pollution Control District started working with IFTTT to notify residents about air quality conditions. A team at Louisville Emergency Services worked with a developer in its IT department to enable the data feed from the Rave-based LENSAlert to be sent directly to IFTTT. From there, IFTTT Smart Louisville Applets can be set up to send an email, update Slack or activate a number of smart home responses. LENSAlert can now be connected to over 400 software and hardware devices, allowing a new level of accessibility.
There are also applications to help those with disabilities. “There are some devices that you can attach to a bed and if the person is deaf or blind, it will shake the bed to wake them up,” said Mitchell Burmeister, executive administration and public information officer at Louisville Emergency Services. “We can basically connect to any smart home device or internet-connected device that uses internet of things.”
Burmeister even has six Phillips LED smart bulbs in his own house that change color depending on the emergency notification status. When emergency notifications are sent the bulbs will flash red; general notifications flash yellow.
“Rave is set up so we can geographically target [alerts for] different areas of the community that could be affected,” Burmeister said. An isolated storm moving through could have hail or high winds but it might only hit the southern and northeastern part of the county, so we make sure that the alerts are targeted through the Rave system” to notify just those likely to be affected.
IFTTT users are also able to set up which notifications they would like to receive. Besides getting alerts when emergency notifications have been issued, they can get them for changes in air quality. Applets can send alerts on air quality changes or turn on a homeowner's WeMo Air Purifier.
The LENSAlert notifications are not just for home users, however. Louisville is in the process of installing Wi-Fi-enabled kiosks in the downtown area to give directions and help with tourism and plans to push emergency notifications to the kiosks as well.
Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.
Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.
Friedman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.
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