Best Practices: Mass Notification in Preparation for the Republican National Convention
The 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) held in Cleveland, Ohio was a large scale, highly-visible national event which triggered local residents and government officials to be on a heightened state of alert. The City, which boasts a population of nearly 400,000, attracted thousands of supporters from across the country in addition to major media outlets. This highly-visible national event required the coordination of a large number of federal and local law enforcement agencies, city personnel, and emergency responders in order to collaboratively develop and implement complex strategic security and communication plans.
With massive crowd sizes expected in diminutive areas, city officials like Alex Pellom, Cleveland’s Emergency Operations Manager for the Public Safety Department, were tasked with formulating a comprehensive plan to ensure the security of not only the civilian populace, but public safety personnel as well. Throughout the planning phase of the event until its conclusion, Pellom found that a primary component of the City’s success resided in his team’s ability to utilize the CodeRED mass notification solution for internal departmental communications and coordination.
Prior to the RNC, Pellom and his team developed a plan that included a variety of announcements aimed to drive resident and visitor CodeRED enrollments. Successful tactics deployed included the issuance of press releases to a variety of news sources, conducting live Public Safety Official interviews, and the overall promotion of the CodeRED Mobile Alert app to encourage citizens to download the free app in order to remain informed throughout the duration of the event. City personnel constructed contingency plans with pre-scripted messages for all types of hazards or scenarios in advance, for quick dissemination. By utilizing the CodeRED system extensively for internal notifications throughout the event, City officials were able to maintain open lines of communication with various agencies including Police, EMS and Fire Departments.
After the event wound down, Cleveland’s Public Safety Department began working to identify areas requiring additional focus in the future. One objective moving forward is to maximize city-wide registrations while increasing CodeRED awareness in hopes of deploying external public notifications in the future. Another is to expand the use of CodeRED to non-Public Safety Departments and Divisions to improve and enhance internal communications.
In September, an all-call promoting the service and the ability to add personal contact information to the city’s database was sent out to all Cleveland residents. The success of any community’s communication resides in the amount of residents they are able to reach, as a city builds public education and awareness campaigns.
To further professionalize this process, Pellom put together a CodeRED Steering Committee to create a strategy around enhancing both the internal and external use of the critical communication solution throughout the city. This Steering Committee first met in October of 2016 and continues to meet monthly to build out standard operating guidelines for internal use and to outline avenues to be utilized in order to sign up more residents for the service.
As an Example, Cleveland Deployed Several Best Practices: