New York's Deputy CIO Looks To Consoles For New Emergency Alert System

New York's Deputy CIO Looks To Consoles For New Emergency Alert System

If there was a city in the US that you would look to as front-runner in pioneering new emergency alert, warning and information systems, most likely one of the first to come to mind would be the great Big Apple.  New York's rebuiling process since the 911 attacks is taking shape in a number of forms but perhaps none more so than the extent of preventative measures the city's local government is taking to keep its citizens safe and hold firm to their mantra of "never again and never forget".  In addition, getting the word out quickly, in the event of an emergency, is obviously a critical component of protecting people from any threat of the natural kind or otherwise.  In that regard, the city's Chief Information Officer is looking at new, innovative ways of reaching the widest swath of New York's huge population as quickly as possible.  In fact, he's looking to tap into pre-existing communication networks beyond the city's traditional TV and radio audience, in an effort to expand that reach.


Singleton, sporting a Macbook

Under New York's new "Empire 2.0" initiative,  Deputy CIO, Rico Singleton is targeting developement of an alert system that will connect to various game console networks like Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Wii Connect.  "The goal, said New York State Deputy CIO Rico Singleton, is to reach younger residents who spend more time on the Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii than with television or radio. "  

With the state's new plan, local authorities could broadcast warning messages to connected gamers in the event of an emergency.  This approach seems like a logical and natural strategy since quite frankly many TV sets these days are occupied by game console content for hours on end and gamers could be completely oblivious to a situation if not made aware by some other means.  The bottom line is, though obviously no system would provide complete coverage, the idea is that, like those annoying TV alert tests we've grown accustomed to over the years, the same sort of broadcast could be made over consoles.  Thus, one way or the other, if a TV is on those citizens would be made aware of an emergency situation. 

 
This is a test of the Xbox Live Emergency Alert System.  This is only a test...

Also, apparently New York is keen on taking advantage of social networks to protect its citizens with New York's Department of Health monitoring Facebook posts to help identify suicidal behavior, along with the CIO's office providing tweets on new technology efforts in the state.   Singleton is quoted as saying "Web 2.0 "is the world we're beginning to live in... we should be part of the movement." 

We'd have to agree Rico, but "Web 2.0" is so two-thousand and late.  We're moving on to the next revision but applaud New York's efforts in homeland security with a keen eye on technology and trends.  And what about tapping on the shoulders of all those Left 4 Dead zombies on
Steam?  Let's not forget those PC gamers out there too.

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If they implement it, it should be opt-in. In this day and age we have plenty of ways to get this information delivered to us. More people own cell phones than consoles - why not set up a system to SMS to them?

I don't need my kids telling me their games are being interrupted every five minutes with scary messages that the hurricane is 10 miles closer to shore and there are tornados two counties away - I'm probably already watching it on TV, hearing it on radio, following it on my computer, etc...

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They want to implement in New York City. As long as they keep it down to a low roar, then it sounds like a good idea to me. Maybe these kids ARE a little too disconnected from the reality around them. While there is a lot of crap happening in New York daily, most of it wouldn't require alerting the whole population anyway.

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I understand where you're coming from, which is why people should still be able to opt-in.  But, just because you can notify someone through a media, should you?

"Hi, this is On*Star with an alert from the emergency broadcast system. We've temporarily disabled your accelerator so that you can listen to this important message..."

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Exactly, Neil. These alerts are for things like major league natural disasters, terrorist attacks etc. The last time I heard a real alert or even a test for that matter, there was a tornado warning. I'd have no problem having a game session interrupted if something like that was bearing down on me. Probably should shut off and unplug the HD set anyway!

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I get what you guys are saying, I really do... but what's next? Instant Messaging broadcasts to our PCs? High priority e-mail? Skype calls to notify us?

If they want to do notifications like this, they should set up a single RSS feed and allow us to configure our devices as we see fit to act upon the alerts - not implement a separate system for every possible computing platform or force the alerts through channels we don't want disrupted.

Of course, my opinion may be influenced by my most recent experiences with the EBS:  There were a couple of days a month ago when I was trying to watch some DVR'd programs, and the local cable company continually interrupted *the DVR playback* with *tests* of the EBS.  That's just what you want when gaming, getting continually knife-ganked because they decide they want to test the thing six times a day when there's not even an actual emergency.

I would even be open to an opt-out system - there's just no reason to make the interruption mandatory for a media that isn't restricted in the "all-or-nothing" sense of traditional TV broadcasts.

 

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Here on the freeways in Southern California are huge electronic billboards erected by Caltrans. They are supposed to be used for emergency information that includes traffic accidents and child abductions. Whenever these signs display a warning, traffic slows down while the motorists read the message. Lately the messages include 'Dial 911 To Report Drunk Drivers' and 'Click-It Or Ticket'. Then I saw the message that read something like 'Water Emergency' which really isn't an emergency but is, instead, a drought-reminder.  Clearly, the intent of these signs as a messenger of emergencies is being abused, and I can see the same thing happening in New York. 

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"Freeways of Southern California"

God, I'm glad I got away from there,.........those freeways really blow. I don't miss them one little tiny bit.

There is a hell of allot in California that is bitchin though. Where I lived, it was a hour and a half to the beach and 45 minutes away from the Ski Slopes. For his birthday one year, I took my youngest son Surfing at Ventura Beach in the morning and Night Skiing at Mountain High that evening with a Birthday Party in between.

I think that public safety messages take precedent and should have priority no matter what. They are more important than a game being played, if not to you than to others within your sphere of influence. They don't happen all of the time anyway.

The freeway signs in California were also used for 'Amber Alerts' (as Super said) when children were kidnapped and they helped to find kids right away more than once. Well worth having to read a billboard when stuck in traffic.

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I don't see how this is a big deal that they implement it.  I mean it's not every day that something major happens,  I'm pretty sure you won't see a "Click-it or ticket" while gaming.Stick out tongue

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You probably wouldn't. But if I were still 16 I would be dumpster-diving to get any info I could - in my plan to hack the system to alert everyone of a zombie outbreak.

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And what an epic hack that would be!

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What happens if the folks using the emergency system have all their xbox360's red ring. then no more emergency alert system?

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