Orleans, Genesee introduce mobile apps for emergency notifications, services

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Orleans County Emergency management and Public Health officials today discussing a new app for “Orleans Aware” that includes information about hazardous weather, detours, evacuation routes, emergency shelters and the option for families to create their own disaster ready plan for their home. The group in photo includes, from left: Dale Banker, Emergency Management Coordinator for the county; Albert Cheverie, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator; and Paul Pettit, Public Health Director.

ALBION –  Orleans County, and its southern neighbor in Genesee, both debuted new apps today that are designed to encourage residents in both counties to be prepared and protect themselves and their loved ones in the case of a disaster.

The two counties are the first in the state with such mobile apps. Paul Pettit, the Public Health director in both counties, said more counties are working on their own apps, but Genesee and Orleans are the first to utilize the technology to inform the public.

“This is about getting the information out to the public in real-time fashion,” Pettit told Orleans County legislators today.

Orleans used grant money through emergency management and public health to develop the app with the Quickseries Publishing.

Genesee County unveiled the app for “Ready Genesee” and Orleans debuted “Orleans Aware” today. They are the first counties in the state to make such apps for community preparedness available.

The app includes interactive and instructional guides to help users prepare for emergencies. Residents can also develop disaster-ready plans that are specific to their own homes.

The counties can also send out news alerts, alerts on hazardous weather, evacuation routes and emergency shelters. The county will likely give details on upcoming rabies clinics, information on public health threats such as the Zika virus, and news about burn bans, for example.

The app has options to develop many other features for informing the public, but residents shouldn’t expect to be overly inundated with alerts, said Albert Cheverie, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.

“There won’t be any chicken dinner announcements,” he said.

The new apps are free and available to everyone using an iOS or an Android device. It can be downloaded directly from the App Store or Google Play. Orleans Aware may not be available at the App Store until next week but it is ready from Google Play.

Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said the app will make it easier for the county to send clear messages in an immediate fashion to residents about emergencies and public health issues.