I received an email last week from the Arlington, Virginia Office of Emergency Management alerting subscribers that they were going to start sending fewer email/text emergency alerts.
From: “Arlington Alert”
To: “Arlington Alert Subscribers”
Subject: Policy change concerning Military Flyover Alerts
Routine ArlingtonAlert notifications regarding military flyovers are being discontinued. This change was made due to the almost daily flyovers in the area of Arlington National Cemetary. Alerts regarding flyovers that are not deemed routine or present any threat will continue to be issued upon our receipt of information.
I mention this because as governmental authorities expand their technological capacity to alert the public the challenge will be to find a balance between informing and overloading us. If people get too many alerts, they will start ignoring them. So, in this case, Arlington made the smart decision to pull back on its routine aircraft “flyover” notifications. Now, that capacity is available to better inform the public about emergencies and other important information in a timely manner, it will be a continuing challenge to find the right balance on how much is too much.
Btw, those of you who know I live in New York City might be asking why I get email and text alerts from Arlington, Virginia. Most governments allow you to sign up even if you don’t live in the direct area, and I subscribe to a lot of these alert systems from around the U.S. so I can see what states and localities are doing (and try to draw lessons from them like this.). I encourage everyone to see if their governmental authorities (state, county, city, etc.) have these free email/text notification services. I think you will find the alerts interesting and helpful.