Mississippi launched emergency text alerts and mobile app

Even though smartphone subscribers are automatically registered to receive weather and AMBER alerts, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) took it a step further with its statewide emergency text alerts and phone application, according to a report in the Clarion Ledger.

Similar to the national alerts program, Mississippi residents are automatically enrolled to receive these text messages. People in parts of the state will be notified about weather warnings or nearby evacuations relevant to their area. Messages will be sent one at a time.

"We live in a mobile society, and putting lifesaving information at the fingertips of our residents is a great way to inform and protect the entire family, regardless of where they are," Robert Latham, MEMA executive director said its press release.

In the past, people would hear about upcoming storms on television or the radio, but that is no longer the case when users can have access to the Internet on their cell phone. MEMA's choice to localize its alerts makes sense when 91 percent of American adults own a mobile device.

"What's exciting about this is that everybody's got a phone now," Steve Wilkinson, warning coordinator meteorologist at the National Weather Service, told the Clarion Ledger. "It's a way to not only reach traditional folks who might be watching their TV, but to reach everybody."

Those who want around-the-clock updates in Mississippi can get them through MEMA's mobile app, which is available on Android and Apple platforms. The app will feature preparedness tools, weather forecasts and information on state highways. This is a valuable service, but the ability to send SMS messages can be even more helpful. States that wish to establish their emergency SMS service can do so with the help of Swift SMS Gateway.