Los Angeles' Mass Alert System Needs Changes, City Controller Says

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles' mass emergency notification system is in need of a series of changes to be more effective and accessible, according to a report released today by City Controller Ron Galperin.

The system, called NotifyLA, is run by the Emergency Management Department and can send immediate alerts to land lines or cell phones via a free subscription service, and can also send emails and area-specific wireless emergency alerts.

Galperin said the system is inconsistently disseminated and is not fully accessible because its messages are limited to mostly English. The city does not seem to realize its full value, he said.

"When it comes to public safety, getting timely and up-to-date information can make the difference between life and death,” Galperin said. ``The Emergency Management Department -- and our police and fire departments -- work around the clock to keep Los Angeles safe. But we are collectively falling short on providing an emergency notification system that should be more widely disseminated and accessible to more Angelenos. The city can do better and I am confident that working together, we can improve.”

Galperin's report makes a number of recommendations, including that the EMD formalize its own procedures in coordination with the Los Angeles police and fire departments for when to send wireless emergency alerts while erring on the side of more information.

The report also recommends that the messages be translated into other commonly spoken languages, noting that the emergency notification systems within the county and the Los Angeles Unified School District each support at least five languages while New York City offers pre-scripted emergency alerts in 13 languages.

"Ensuring the safety of Angelenos during emergencies and disasters is a core mission of the Emergency Management Department," EMD General Manager Aram Sahakian said. ``This includes issuing timely, accurate and relevant emergency alerts. My department is committed to implementing Controller Galperin's recommendations, as well as continuing our own efforts to improve and enhance our alerting capabilities."

Photos: Getty Images

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