The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday announced new features for its emergency response system that it says will help keep citizens informed in moments of crisis.
A new automated city alert system -- which replaces a manual one -- will notify officials, emergency personnel and regular citizens in case of a flood or landslide, relaying information through mobile channels, sending automated e-mail, instant message and SMS alerts.
The upgrade is expected to significantly reduce reaction time during emergency situations. IBM, which provided the software for the new capabilities, recently installed the features at Rio's year-old centralized command center.
The operations center serves as an information and process hub for 30 different city agencies, from traffic and transit to energy and water infrastructure; a unique feature is its high-resolution weather forecasting and hydrological modeling system, which helps officials predict heavy rainfall (and thus flash floods, and thus landslides) up to 48 hours in advance.
The new alert system makes it easier for city officials to do something once those predictions occur; moreover, its automation allows them to track responses and aggregate that data for analysis after the crisis has passed.
“We share data with the population on mobile devices and social networks, so as to empower them with initiatives that can contribute to an improved flow of city operations," Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes said in a statement.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com