On Friday, May 14, Gulf Coast area county judges and emergency management unveiled a partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor to provide emergency messaging to area residents on Clear Channel’s digital billboards in the case of a natural or man-made disaster. A test was performed today with messages displayed on eleven area digital billboards. Officials urge citizens to be prepared in case of an emergency.
Fort Bend, Harris, Galveston, and Brazoria counties have all endorsed the “Gulf Coast Emergency Communications Network,” as a viable means to augment their efforts to reach the public during a crisis. The Emergency Management Offices of each county are working with Clear Channel to perfect how and when messages are displayed on the units. “Time is of the essence in the case of emergencies and digital technology on billboards provides instant messaging in real time,”
Donna Baker, president of the Clear Channel Houston office, said.
During a crisis situation area emergency management coordinators will meet and decide the best use of the messaging for region-wide events. Message designs have been preset and those will be used to inform the traveling public of the crisis. “This is an invaluable tool for reaching the public instantly and one more way to make sure we stay in constant contact with our residents,” Jeff Braun, Emergency Management Coordinator for Fort Bend County, said.
Braun further indicated that having such technology in place in the future will assist with more than just hurricanes; indicating that the Network would also be utilized for Amber Alert notifications and significant road closures caused by flooding.
The system is currently comprised of eleven digital units throughout the area with four more being deployed within the next 30 days. As units are built they will be added to the system which will provide region-wide messaging as well as local messages. During an emergency, county officials urge area residents to have a plan, make a kit and stay informed. Messages on digital billboards will help to keep residents informed throughout a crisis.
“This is another tool to help us communicate potentially lifesaving emergency information to residents of Harris and surrounding counties at no cost to the taxpayers,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. “And communication is key to saving lives and protecting property in a disaster.”
“Certainly we know the effects of a major weather crisis, getting our message out to the public instantly is so important,” Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, commented.
The system will be available to emergency coordinators on a 24 hour, seven day a week basis. Controls are in place that will only activate the system in the case of a true emergency as determined by the management offices. Local emergency messages for cities in which the digital billboards are located will be determined by the city’s emergency or management staff.