June is the start of Hurricane Season, and that means public safety officials have already begun preparing for the intense ocean-incubated storms. As the first tropical storm in the Americas for 2009 brewed last week, I got to thinking about how public safety departments can, and should, use SMS marketing technologies whenever a hurricane–or other disaster–strikes.

Text messaging is especially important whenever a large area is affected, along with utilities. When land lines and Internet connections go down, most people turn to their cell phones. Trouble is, voice service takes up a lot of bandwidth–so that it’s nearly impossible for someone to call for help, or for worried loved ones to contact someone in a disaster area. 

SMS, however,  is not affected by busy traffic and other problems. As Cellular South said in a recent hurricane-preparedness press release, “Text messages require less network capacity and are more likely than voice calls to reach their destination during periods of network congestion.”

Numerous government agencies, as well as institutions like universities, already have some kind of message alert system in place. These are for large-scale disasters as well as individual emergencies. For example, the Marietta, Georgia school board has an SMS program in which students can send crime tips to police–using mobileStorm’s technology to make it possible.

It’s pretty satisfying that what was originally a marketing solution  can also be used for the public good.

Eydie Cubarrubia

“I’d rather you text me”