State Reboots Emergency Information Website

State Reboots Emergency Information Website

The new Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) website, www.AzEIN.gov, went live in June 2014. The revamped site includes a search function and integrated social media and translation features.

PHOENIX--The Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) recently launched a refresh of the Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) website, www.EIN.Az.gov.  AzEIN is the State of Arizona’s official source for emergency updates, preparedness and hazard information.

 

From the inside looking out, however, when you consider the upgrades that were made to the site during the six-month project, it feels more like a renovation than a refresh.

 

“This project was substantially more than a redesign of the logo and review of the color palette,” said ADEM Public Information Officer (PIO) Judy Kioski. “We’ve striven to make the site more useful to and usable for the general public.”

 

Supported by the Arizona Department of Health Services, ADEM began the redesign of the “old” website with a plan to advance site usability, facilitate user interaction and improve site accessibility.  In meeting these goals for the website, according to Kioski, the Public Information Office improved its capacity to reduce the impact of disasters on persons and property.

 

“The more people we can reach with official crisis and emergency risk messages,” said Kioski, “the better prepared they’ll be to resist rumor and misinformation, and make informed decisions.”

 

The new website is more user-friendly than any previous iteration of AzEIN. For starters, the site was responsive designed to be easily viewed on smartphones, tablets and desktops; integrates Google Translate; and makes it easy for users to share content with their Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

 

Most notably, said Kioski, users can now do a keyword search of entire website. You might be saying, “Big whoop, what website doesn’t have search functionality”; but, it is a significant upgrade for a website that was built from the bottom up in the span of few months.

 

“The first AzEIN.gov was built on tight deadline and an even tighter budget, which had an effect on what features and functions the eventual site had” said Kioski. “Moreover, we didn’t want to create another .gov website just for the sake of creating it. Our goal was to make something useful; a website that presented the public with valuable information even when there wasn’t an emergency.”

 

The nonperishable information that Kioski is talking about is under the “Hazards” and “Get Prepared” tabs of the website. Preparedness and mitigation tips are offered for 15 hazards, including dust storms, extreme heat and wildfire. For example, Arizonans can learn how creating defensible space, landscaping with fire-resistant plants and regularly cleaning gutters can save a home from wildfire.

 

The website also reminds visitors of the importance of personal and family preparedness. Whether it’s a wildfire in northern Arizona or flash flooding in Phoenix, all Arizonans should have family communication and evacuation plans, and a 72-hour emergency supplies kit.

 

“Your efforts now can make all the difference when emergency or disaster strikes,” said Kioski.

 

The signature feature of AzEIN then and now is still the Emergency Bulletin System (EBS). Information posted to the EBS is submitted by a statewide network of over 800 “Authorized Agents.” These Authorized Agents are PIOs and agency officials cleared to speak on behalf of their organizations. The ADEM staff verifies, sometimes fact checks and updates the website 24/7/365.

 

“It is only because our stakeholders trust us to share their information in a timely and responsible manner that AzEIN is seen as an official source for all-hazard preparedness and emergency information,” Kioski said.

 

AzEIN launched in August 2009 with the goals of supporting stakeholders with a website for disseminating emergency information; alerting the public to current emergencies in the state; and advocating personal preparedness.