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Most Wanted Emergency Notification Feature #3: Geographic and Location Based Alerting

As our Most Wanted Features series continues, we’ll take a closer look at more of the features and functionality most desired by organizations, continuity professionals, and others with a vested interest in emergency notification.

While traditional alerting methods (i.e., email, SMS, voice calls) are essential and relevant, many organizations desire secure and resilient communication to target their “on-the-go” mobile workforce.  That makes location-based alerting the next feature on our most wanted list.

See Most Wanted Features #1: Two-way Communications

See Most Wanted Features #2: Self-Registration Portal

Notification providers that offer robust notification services support alert initiation based on their geographic position—be that the location on record in your contact database (e.g., home address or office address) or the GPS location of a smartphone. There are options when it comes to choosing this type of targeted alerting feature; we’ll discuss two types in this post: geo-mapping and geo-fencing.

 Geo-Mapping & Location-Based Alerts

Geo-mapping features allow an alert sender to select contacts according to their physical addresses stored in the contact database. This usually involves drawing or importing one or more shapes on a map, initiating the notification service to send the alert to only those recipients located within the selected area(s). Send Word Now’s Geo-Enabled Alerts mapping feature uses Google Maps and flexible mapping tools, together with existing recipient address data, to enable accurate location-based alerts.

This functionality works well for organizations with home-based employees and other static workforces. If your employees are typically in the same place each day, then they will receive an alert if they fall within the shape on the map. For example, if severe weather is predicted for an area, and your retail organization has a store within the storm’s path, then all employees based in that geo-mapped area should receive the warning alert.

This feature is useful in many circumstances. However, its primary limitation relates to the fact that recipients may not be physically located at the address listed in the notification database at the moment the alert is sent. For this, you need to have an idea of where the recipient is located in real-time. Luckily, geo-fencing technology provides for precisely this capability.

 Geo-Fencing & Location-Based Alerts

Think of a geo-fence as a virtual boundary around a real-world geographic area. Using a feature like Send Word Now’s SWN Locate, notification system administrators can select a geographic area on a map and send alerts to recipients who are physically located within the selection’s boundaries. For privacy, a recipient’s location is not tracked continuously. Instead, a geo-fence is established around the selected area when the notification is launched. All recipients with real-time GPS coordinates on their smartphones falling within the geo-fence receive an immediate alert on their mobile device.

This new type of location-based alerting is ideal for organizations with a mobile workforce. For instance, if you have employees who make deliveries or conduct inspections, they move frequently from place to place. Enabling them to receive a notification upon crossing a geo-fence ensures they will receive the information pertinent to them at that time and in that location.


Geo-mapping and geo-fencing are two powerful methods for alerting people based on geography. When evaluating emergency notification systems, make sure your provider offers both of these valuable capabilities.