The Nationwide network of
neighborhood based,
Community Emergency Preparedness Coordinators


NEWS MAGIC
Network Emergency Warning System
(Multi-Access Global Internet Communications)

 

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Contact EMCOM for information on how to have access to the Notification and Emergency Warning System.



Rapid, secure communications is the key to the coordination of large, geographically diverse organizations, or communications with multiple levels of multiple organizations.

The NEWS MAGIC System provides a low-cost, high-speed, secure network that provides instant communications within and between Emergency Preparedness/Response agencies of all types, at all levels, without the need to purchase communications hardware or software, and can provide full functionality/operability with virtually no training time or cost.


The EMCOM Notification and Emergency Warning System (NEWS), now the core of the National Emergency Alert Notification System, was designed and developed specifically to meet those needs in the most demanding environment; Emergency Management. It is one of an extensive set of utilities in the MAGIC (Multi-Access Global Internet Communications) package. The system allows agencies to instantly communicate with diverse and remote locations anywhere in the region, state, nation or world by simply keying or "cut and pasting" a message once, and having it delivered by "popping up" in a window on the computer screens of a specifically targeted audience within seconds of being posted. Agencies can include photos, video, or even attach other documents to the message, and can even cause the internet browser of all receivers to automatically display any page on the internet.

Originally developed to utilize the network facilities of the internet, (Pop-Alert, PubAlert, E-Mail, text messaging capable cell phones and pagers, etc.), the system has been widely expanded to include satellite based communications to WeatherAlert 2000 class All-Hazard receivers and nationwide pagers, FAX, and telephone (Voice) notifications. The system translates text messages to voice, and translates both of these to multiple languages.

The system was then further extended to provide a complete Survey /Situation Reporting Feedback Loop, for disseminating queries, and retrieving and coalating responses into a single file for download to user's computers for use in their own analysis applications.

The primary considerations in designing the system included the fact that it must provide the maximum possible distribution of notification messages, while maintaining a low cost structure. This would allow small communities with limited budgets to have the same capabilities as large cities. Additionally, the system must provide for use by any type of internet capable computer, regardless of hardware platform, operating system, or internet browser.

While the internet provided a convenient network, the most significant cost savings were generated through the economies of scale realized by participating in a centralized, yet distributed system. Installing simply outbound dialers for notifications can be cost prohibitive, potentially costing tens of thousands of dollars to install, and thousands of dollars a month to operate and maintain.

By utilizing a number of large commercial outbound telemarketing companies across the nation, each given a portion of a notification file, extremely high notifcation rates can be achieved, yet at a tiny fraction of the cost of in-house systems, which also offer a significant risk of single point failure if telephone facilities at their location become inoperable. Using the designed system, user's only pay for the notifications actually sent. Equally important is the fact that there is no computer hardware or software to purchase, and no technical staff required to operate or maintain it.

The developed system meets numerous challenges that were posed in the design analysis:
  • Delivers messages instantly and simultaneously to hundreds, even thousands of users in diverse locations world-wide. Messages can contain any media that would normally be found on internet pages, including video.

  • The system delivers secure, encrypted communications utilizing RSA certificated 128 bit encryption of transmissions.

  • The system allows for a virtually unlimited number of discrete channels that can be designated by the system operators, plus a channel designated specifically for access by the general public, and one for the media so that they can receive bulletins from Emergency Management agencies that will "pop up" on their newsroom computers. Use of discreet, multiplexed spread-spectrum channelizing also allows for "targeting" groups for receipt of any given message, down to single computers.

  • Geocoded interfaces allow agencies to choose receivers to also designate users to receive messages by zip code, township/city, state, country, or even users within X (user designated) miles of a given point or incident.

  • The system automatically activates when users proceed to a designated internet page. There is NO special hardware to purchase, download or install on user computers.

  • When activated, a small window opens on the user's computer screen. For the public, this is simply an icon window. For other users, the window contains a menu of other features available to them on the system, as well as a channel designator.

  • Once activated users can choose to leave the window on their computer screen, or minimize the window to their status bar. The system will continue to monitor for messages as long as an internet connection is maintained. Users are free to use their internet browser anywhere on the internet, or to use any other application on their computer.

  • The system operates on all computers, regardless of computer type, operating system type (i.e. UNIX, LINUX, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, etc.)

  • The system operates with virtually all internet browser software such as Netscape, Internet Explorer, etc. The only criteria is that it is java capable.

  • The system requires little training to operate. With simple, on-line instructions, users can be operating the system within minutes.

  • As a default configuration, the system "pops up" bulletins issued by the National Weather Service for the user's own area, as well as Breaking News bulletins as they are issued by major media outlets.

  • The system allows users to designate that bulletins also be sent to their email, or, if they are going to be away from their computer completely, they can have bulletins sent to their text messaging capable cellular telephone, such that emergency worker in the 'field' can also receive the bulletins.

  • Bulletins can incorporate photos, video, etc. include attached documents, or even direct the user's internet browser to display any page accessible through the internet.

    For instance, the system can be interfaced with the "dash cameras" of emergency vehicles. Cameras in vehicles arriving at a disaster scene can 'pan' the area, and photos/video can be incorporated into a bulletin that immediately reaches Emergency Management agencies locally, state, nation, even world-wide for use in damage assessment and resource allocation.

  • The system incorporates a built-in training/conferencing mechanism which includes our Conference MAGIC presentation system, whereby when in a conference call training session, the internet browsers of all participants can be directed remotely by the instructor to any page on the internet. All participants pages move simultaneously at the direction of the instructor, regardless of the computer types, operating systems, or internet browser types of the participants.

    The system allows Emergency Call Centers to reinforce instructions or to give detailed instructions to persons in remote locations, or where circumstances cause emergency responders to be delayed or unavailable. The operator/dispatcher can designate a page or pages of instructions which may include graphics, photos, even video be delivered to the computer screen of the caller by simply designating them with with the user's telephone number (or any other agreed upon code). If the user is currently on-line, the pages will appear on their computer within seconds. This system has "persistence": If the user must hang up the phone to access the internet with it, the pages will be delivered when the user makes an internet connection and goes to the agency's web site. The designated pages will appear automatically. If needed, the operator/dispatcher can continue to aid the subject through a text chat box.

    This same mechanism is available to ANY group or sub-group of individuals. The leader of the group can indicate any internet pages in sequence, and the internet browsers of the remainder of the group will immediately display the same page(s).

  • The system maintains comprehensive, chronological logs of all messages recorded by channel and/or by incident. Users may review these logs at any time to insure they have not missed a bulletin while their computer was temporarily off-line. Users only have access to those logs of channels to which you have granted them access.

  • Any Emergency Management agency, public or private, can have access to the system for the relaying of messages.

  • Messages can be targeted by many means;
    • by agency or group of agencies, media or public
    • by specific incident
    • by geographic location
    • by user defined distance from a geographic location
    • or any combination of these.

    For example, an agency could designate a specific bulletin be delivered to specific type(s) of agencies participating in a given emergency incident that are located within a user defined distance of the geographic area of the incident.

  • The system incorporates a built-in 2-way communications system, known under the names "Live MAGIC" and "Triage Magic", similar to internet LIVE HELP type systems but significantly more sophisticated in their features and operations. With it, users can communicate 1 on 1 with any of the other participating agencies, outside of the the en masse notification system. This communications is generally via a text based "chat box" that the user activates. However, the agency also has the option to initiate a chat box session with any user of the system at any time. Doing so automatically activates and "pops-up" the chat box on the user's system.

    Another option is available that allows users that have speakers and a microphone on their computer, to click a button and automatically be in voice contact with operators of the host agency.

  • The system also incorporates a number of other features and benefits which serve to aid and enhance the abilities for Coordinators to perform their duties, and to locate additional preparedness/response information on the internet. Some of these include:
    • Rapid Search - Allows users to quickly search multiple search engines for keywords, phrases.
    • Contact Manager - A complete contacts management system.
    • Day Planner - A feature-rich, complete planning/calendar system with day, week, month, year views. It not only schedules, but coordinates meetings, has an appointment reminder, and a full "To Do" list system.
    • Memo Pad - A full, user-definable, multi-pad memo system.
    • Messaging System - On-line "instant" messaging system for communications between coordinators, the EMCOM NCC and participating emergency agencies.
    • Document Control System - Complete DCS for sharing and tracking of documents within and between coordinator groups and response teams.
    • DataBase System - EMCOM DataBase Wizard for maintaining neighborhood records for quick search, retrieval and update.
 

Copyright © 1999-2001 by Eric Forsman
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