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Deploying ‘Perimeter’ App Helping With Evacuation Setup

Perimeter is an app that puts emergency managers in an advanced state of situational awareness, allowing them to share critical information like road closures and evacuation routes both internally and with the public.

Sometimes operating in an EOC during a disaster and trying to gather information to disperse to the public can be tedious.

“It feels a little bit like you’re flying blind in an EOC because you have to scrape and claw for that situational awareness of what is happening in the field,” said Kelly Echeverria, emergency management administrator for Washoe County, Nev.

So when Echeverria saw a demonstration of the Perimeter platform, she wanted it in her county. She wanted it in her state. Washoe County and a good part of Nevada are very visitor friendly, with a heavy volume of tourists. She wanted a way to be able to communicate evacuation routes and other emergency information, like road closures, where shelters are, threats, etc.

About a year ago, Washoe began to pilot the platform, which allows the county to upload critical information and easily share it with the public. “We are a very events-based community and wanted to be able to communicate efficiently and effectively as possible,” Echeverria said.

When Adam Amaral started his job as emergency manager for Merced County, Calif., he immediately saw holes in the county’s ability to share evacuation information and how it set up evacuation zones. He liked that Perimeter offered a "situational awareness common operating picture" that he didn't find with other similar platforms.

To be able to share intelligence among county personnel in real time and to then be able to relay that information — about road closures, evacuation routes, evacuation centers — to the public and keep them updated in real time is the situational awareness and common operating picture that public safety agencies need during a hazard.

"We were able to separate that intelligence to be able to communicate with our communities, but also internally for a better response," Amaral said.

Amaral liked that while other solutions had the mapping platform that painted a visual picture, Perimeter offers that plus the ability to include real-time information such as capacity at shelter sites and resource needs.

Amaral said once information is gathered, it is funneled to the county's public information officer, who then releases it to the public via press release and social media outlets, and they push it out through the emergency notification system.

The public can then download the app through a QR code or they can find it on the county website. “We tell residents to opt-in to our emergency notification system,” Amaral said. “We’re also telling them to opt-in to our Perimeter platform where we’ll be sharing information as well as mapping.”

Merced County, Calif., uses the app for everyday purposes as well, such as road closures for routine maintenance, sharing new travel routes and keeping residents informed about the progression of the project.

Washoe County has already used Perimeter for a couple of real emergencies, like fires. “We have it on the emergency management web page and are also able to drop it in alert notifications,” Echeverria said.

The goal, Echeverria said, is for the state to adopt Perimeter and run it for the counties.