Our prospective customers planning to implement AMG Alerts as a tool to handle unforeseen situations at events often state “I am not sure how effective this will be if most people don’t sign up.”
Our viewpoint is the following:
- In almost every case, most people will NOT sign up, so plan on that
- In almost every case, the system will be effective anyway
It’s unreasonable to think that in an event where there might be 5,000, 10,000, or 50,000 people attending that most people attendees sign up for emergency alerts of some kind. Many won’t know about the availability of alerts, many won’t care, and many will figure that the odds of needing it are too slim to bother with it. You could easily end up with 5% participation, at best. And that’s okay.
In this vein, here are a couple of anecdotes that come to mind:
1) In the fall of 2010, Purdue basketball forward Robbie Hummel tore his ACL on the first day of basketball practice. This happened mid-morning on a football Saturday at Purdue. Within an hour, 30,000 tailgaters in their various designated areas, spread over 2,500 acres of campus, knew about this. I’m sure it spread even more quickly among the student population on campus. And at game time, all 60,000 people in the stadium knew about it. I witnessed the phenomenon from a tailgater’s perspective and wondered what tiny percentage of the 30,000 people INITIALLY heard the news and how it could have spread like wildfire. At the end of the day, all it takes a lot of people who are interested in the issue and a few people to ignite the fire within various densely-packed pockets.
2) In the spring of 2011, I was at the second-largest aviation event in the U.S., the annual Sun ‘n’ Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, FL. A violent storm with embedded tornadoes swept across the event, damaging or destroying dozens of aircraft, flooding the area, knocking out power, and basically making a mess of the event. Nobody is knocking the lack of preparation on the part of the organizers, especially because they learned from that event, but it resulted in hours of chaos. None of the attendees, spread over an area about 10% of that in the Purdue example above, knew that they were trying to shut down the event and in fact clear everyone out to begin a massive cleanup operation of spilled porta-potties and aviation fuel, wrecked airplanes, and the like. I was there for that too and as people crammed into one of the many pole buildings trying to hear a guy on a megaphone standing on an emergency vehicle, I thought of how quickly word would spread if just 50 or 100 people out of 10,000 had known what the organizers had been trying to do.
So besides the obvious PR aspects of providing emergency notification, be aware that it only takes a small spark to start wildfire, and it might not matter much how big the spark is compared to the size of the field.