70% Trust Government-issued Alerts And Notification Services: Reports

A digital technology entrenched approach towards the government to citizen communication can save lives.

A flashback to some of the critical events India has witnessed in the 21st Century 

26 November 2008 – Mumbai Terrorist attacks 

28th November 2015 – Tamil Nadu floods 

29 August 2017 – Mumbai floods 

And the critical event that hit India just before COVID-19 

4th December - Citizenship Amendment Act protests

Counter-factual analysis of all the above critical events reveals that a digital technology entrenched approach towards the government to citizen communication can save lives and reduce the impact such events have on the economy. 

The role of communication in public safety

The value of information is lost if it is not timely. Information also needs qualifications. It should be delivered via a secure and authenticated channel to be trustworthy. A recent study by Everbridge found that 69.6 per cent of survey respondents in UK, larger European countries in Europe, Singapore and Australia find SMS/Text messaging as a good channel for emergency alerts and notifications. This survey ranked Social media as the least reliable and trustworthy source for emergency alerts and notifications. What is remarkable is that more than 70 per cent of the survey respondents trust Government-issued alerts and notification services. Therefore, the survey clearly highlights that even Governments in developed countries need to raise their bar when it comes to a critical event or emergency alerts and notifications.  

Everbridge is a global software company that provides software applications that automate and accelerate operational response to critical events in order to keep people safe and businesses running. It is a company that has been selected by entire countries, like Australia, to build and deploy their nationwide alerting systems. It is also a company that helps financial technology organizations respond to and restore IT operations in minutes versus hours, helps public authorities reunite missing children with their families and helps to keep business and supply chain operations running in the face of almost daily disruptions.  

All communication channels between the government and citizens should support the two-way flow of information. Communication also must be multi-channel and tactile in nature and should explore alternative channels to reach a citizen if say the citizen has not read the SMS text message. Such alerts and notification platform are also an opportunity to establish an open data architecture giving citizens control over the data they have shared with the government. Giving a local example, anyone taking the Kalindi Kunj Road on 14th December 2019 could have been alerted of the Shaheen Bagh road blockade. Or all citizens in Shimla could he alerted about a landslide giving them an opportunity to rethink their travel. Those at the site could be instructed to send pictures of the landslide and traffic jam via SMS messages in real-time which could be further circulated via social media. There are plenty of COVID 19 use cases that could be thought of. Everbridge survey finds that more than 70 per cent of citizens would be ok with constant and regular updates on any situation.  

Countering fake news during a crisis 

Bad elements in society try to disrupt the efforts of the Government during crisis situations. We see a rise in conspiracy theories going around during the COVID-19 lockdown. In a democratic country such as the Republic of India, governments have limited control over the consumer internet. The only way a democratic country can counter fake news during critical events is by having a real-time communication channel with its citizens.  

A large portion of people in developed countries depends on social media for news during a critical event such as COVID-19 leaving them exposed to misinformation campaigns run by malicious global agents. The Everbridge survey reveals that roughly 25 per cent of people in France have acknowledged sharing fake news before noticing it. About 56 per cent of people in Spain said that they are exposed to fake news on a regular basis. A large portion of people in developed countries depends on social media for news during a critical event such as COVID-19 leaving them exposed to misinformation campaigns run by malicious global agents. 

What is at stake? 

Lives and the Economy 

The Everbridge report comes with a timeline of some of the critical events on planet earth in the 21st century. Some of the top critical events and the approximate economic loss they led to in the global economy. 

2002 – Floods in Central Europe (Economic Loss: $24 billion) 

2003 – SARS (Economic Loss: $40 billion) 

2004 – Indian Ocean Tsunami (Economic Loss: $19.4 billion) 

2008 – Earthquake in Sichuan, China (Economic Loss: $96 billion) 

2011 – Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (Economic Loss: $228 billion) 

2017 – Hurricane Harvey (Economic Loss: $245 billion) 

It's in the interest of the governments to insulate the economy and maintain public safety during critical events such as above. 

Navigating public trust for public safety 

Governments across the world need a communications platform that covers the entire lifecycle of a crisis. The ability to mash data in real-time can vastly improve not just the reach of the communication but also make it personalized and relevant for the citizen audiences. The Indian state of Orissa evacuated millions of people during Cyclone Fani which significantly reduced the no of lives lost. NDRF did a fantastic job during Tamil Nadu floods. Such examples reinforce the fact that early warning systems and an informed citizenry do work in reducing the damage and impact of critical events. As they say, "Democracy dies in darkness”; it is important for democracies to keep their citizens situationally aware. Matters of public safety are bipartisan and there is nothing more secular than an informed citizenry.



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