In the future, if your city is faced with an emergency that requires a quick evacuation, you'll probably want to keep your wireless device close. That's because that all-important alert telling you what to do - based on your current location - is likely to come through as a message on that device.
Today, the City of Manassas and the Reston, Va.-based company SquareLoop - with support from former governor Mark R. Warner - will take the first steps toward making that future a reality.
SquareLoop, the location-based services (LBS) company with a unique system for delivering geographically targeted messages to wireless devices, today announced the launch of a beta-test of its wireless location-based messaging system by the City of Manassas in Virginia. Governor Warner will initiate the beta-test today, February 8, 2006, at 11:30 a.m. at the Emergency Operations Center at Manassas Police Headquarters.
The test, which will run through March 2006, will consist of delivering test LBS alerts to volunteer emergency responders from the City of Manassas. Using the emergency responders' standard wireless phones - which, in this case, consist of Motorola and RIM Blackberry phones on the Sprint iDEN network - Manassas public safety officials will test the delivery of messages such as AMBER alerts, evacuation messages, or traffic congestion information to specific geographic locations within Manassas city limits.
"Virginia has been recognized for its development of a model emergency and police communications system," said Governor Warner. "This beta-test of this innovative location-based messaging system by the City of Manassas is another example of the type of vision and commitment desperately needed in a post-9-11, post-Hurricane Katrina world."
SquareLoop's unique technology preserves individual privacy by using the intelligence of the wireless receiver to filter messages, thus enabling the location-based delivery of messages without the need for "continuous tracking" of wireless subscribers. The technology can also be used to filter messages based on factors such as velocity, direction of travel or time of day. SquareLoop's unique LBS technology has the possibility to revolutionize communications applications ranging from public safety to consumer marketing.
In the case of public safety, officials could use SquareLoop technology to send messages only to those people who were in the vicinity of a biological agent release, even days after the agent was released. Or it could send information about a traffic accident only to those most likely impacted by the resulting traffic delays. Such alerts can be sent via a web-based interface or via existing emergency management systems.
"We are pleased to be working with the City of Manassas to develop a new standard for emergency messaging," said Tom Stroup, CEO of SquareLoop. "Everyone from wireless carriers to public safety officials and marketers have been seeking a geographically targeted messaging system that preserves the privacy of wireless subscribers and works with all wireless technologies and carriers. SquareLoop is pleased to be rolling out that system today with the help of Governor Warner and the City of Manassas."
"Reaching out to people in very specific locations with very specific information will be an extremely valuable capability, especially from the perspective of an emergency operations center," said Police Lt. Tim Kotlowski, Deputy Coordinator of Emergency Management for the City of Manassas. "Manassas is very pleased to help roll out geographically-targeted wireless messaging and to evaluate this tool with SquareLoop for use on a more widespread basis."