The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) has logged about 2,000 downloads so far of its new mobile app, Ready AR, since it was released earlier this month. The launch of the app, officially announced at a press conference featuring first lady Ginger Beebe, was timed to coincide with National Preparedness Month. Ready AR features up-to-date information on Arkansas roadway and weather conditions, current threats and emergency planning.
The roadways icon links to resources from the state highway and transportation department, including maps and road closure information.
Weather information includes current conditions, forecasts and alerts provided by the National Weather Service. Geospatial features align alerts to a user’s specific location when they access the app. Users can also review conditions in other areas of the state.
“The state faces quite a few weather and natural disaster threats, including earthquakes, tornadoes, winter events, those sorts of things,” explained Chad Stover, ADEM deputy public information officer. “The app is really designed to give residents tools to be able to use to face off those disasters.”
Clicking on “Threats” links Arkansans to intelligence from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on potential dangers. Tips to guard against these dangers and ways to report potential threats are also included.
Ready AR’s planning section features emergency preparedness information to encourage readiness for a broad array of emergencies. These resources are available natively to those who download the app.
“A lot of times, in an emergency you may have trouble making phone calls,” explained Bob Sanders, director of operations for Arkansas.gov. “You may have trouble getting to the Internet, and we wanted users to be able to have access to that information even if they didn't have an Internet connection.”
Stover reports that other Arkansas state agencies have approached ADEM with the hopes of adding their preparedness resources to the app in a future update. Talks are ongoing to possibly add more law enforcement information and public health resources.
"Other agencies have enjoyed it and want to use it as a portal and brand to get some of their preparedness information out," Stover said.
The app was developed by the Information Network of Arkansas, a division of e-government service provider NIC, over a period of about two months. Ready AR is free to download, and available for the iOS and Android operating systems.
The Information Network of Arkansas also designed the Ready.Arkansas.gov website, which went live in September 2011.
Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.