Disaster prevention and emergency response 

As a government or emergency entity, it is important to find the fastest way to communicate with people in any given area. If there is a fire spreading quickly or a disease advisory needed for the public, your best bet is text message. SMS is the best way to communicate during crisis and is even better if you allow those crisis victims to text back with any questions they may have about the emergency.

Red Cross disaster response

The Red Cross is doing its part to help stop Ebola from spreading by reminding people to wash their hands and to stay sanitary. According to NPR, every phone can do texting no matter how cheap or expensive it is, and in countries where internet access may not be as readily available or where internet outages make it impossible to spread the word online, people can still count on phones to send and receive text messages. 

There have been over 2 million messages sent in regards to Ebola warning people of the signs of illness, where to go if treatment is needed, and encouraging people to get away from others as soon as possible if they recognize the symptoms of the disease. Though it is impossible to tell how many lives will be saved through these reminders, spreading awareness will always help protect people and provide a way for those who may be feeling ill to get help.

Red Cross Red Crescent Response, Ebola Outbreak Snapshot 26 November 2014, IFRC.

Two-way engagement

If, for example, your area had a case of Ebola, you’d want to let your citizens know as fast as possible, so they could protect themselves from it. Though it may seem like enough to send out a text warning everyone, you may not realize how much being able to ask questions will make a difference to the people. Rather than having emergency phone lines running off the hook, you’ll have people texting in their questions and getting automated responses created by artificial intelligence.

For example, someone might text in the questions, “What are the symptoms of Ebola,” to which an automated text would go out with the main symptoms and a number to call if they are experiencing those symptoms. Or maybe they just want to know where the Ebola patient is being held so they can avoid that particular hospital for a while. Being able to answer questions will actually help your citizens calm down and will protect the people from spreading any future diseases.

Communicate during crisis

It is very important to be able to get a message out in a crisis. There have been many ways people experiment with this, but none have been nearly as effective as a text message. Even going door to door to spread a message about an emergency may not work, as a lot of people don’t answer the door even when they are home. Messages on the TV won’t be broadcast on all channels and won’t reach people unless they happen to be watching at that exact moment. Email messages may get filtered straight to the junk mail, and phone calls would take way more time and money than most cities would like to spend. By sending a text, you’ll reach the majority of the population and will help even more people than you expected.