ABC7 Coverage of Notify LA | April 26, 2018

Los Angeles – L.A. Controller Ron Galperin today sounded the alarm on the City’s emergency notification system, calling for a series of changes to NotifyLA to ensure public safety is paired with public information.

NotifyLA is run by the Emergency Management Department (EMD) and is L.A.’s official mass notification system. It has the capability of sending immediate alerts to landline or cell phones to those who subscribe to the free service. The system can also send emails and area-specific wireless emergency alerts.

“When it comes to public safety, getting timely and up-to-date information can make the difference between life and death,” L.A. Controller Ron Galperin said. “The Emergency Management Department – and our police and fire departments – work around the clock to keep Los Angeles safe. But we are collectively falling short on providing an emergency notification system that should be more widely disseminated and accessible to more Angelenos. The City can do better and I’m confident that working together, we can improve.”

“Ensuring the safety of Angelenos during emergencies and disasters is a core mission of the Emergency Management Department,” said EMD General Manager Aram Sahakian. “This includes issuing timely, accurate, and relevant emergency alerts. My department is committed to implementing Controller Galperin’s recommendations, as well as continuing our own efforts to improve and enhance our alerting capabilities. Los Angeles is a safer city today because of the work done by Controller Galperin, EMD, LAPD, and LAFD to provide all Angelenos the critical information they need during emergencies.”

The Controller’s report found that the City is not using NotifyLA as effectively as possible. Its notifications are inconsistently disseminated, its messages are limited to mostly English and the City does not appear to be realizing the full value from the system currently in place. 

In his report, the Controller recommends that:

    • NotifyLA disseminate alerts for any large scale emergency already publicly communicated, directing Angelenos to the agency in command for more information;
    • EMD should formalize its own procedures in coordination with LAPD and LAFD for when to send wireless emergency alerts, erring on the side of more information to ensure the widest possible audience during potentially dangerous situations;
  • EMD should translate notifications into other commonly spoken languages. Emergency notification systems within the County of L.A. and LAUSD each support at least five languages while New York City offers pre-scripted emergency alerts in 13 languages.