iNOTiFY: Alert/Warning System
- iNOTiFY Overview
- iNOTiFY News Releases
- iNOTiFY Architecture
- iNOTiFY Technical Details
Weather-Warning Emergency Alert System
(A comprehensive weather/warning communications framework funded by the U.S. National Weather Service)
For most any emergency, preparedness and effective communication are key: Tell me of danger heading my way; allow me to collaborate with my team to get prepared; and finally, give me the tools so that I can effectively communicate my message to the public. iNOTiFY provides this service.
Plain and simple . . . iNOTiFY empowers Emergency Managers with the communications tools they need to effectively prepare for and respond to danger.
Weather Radio Services
iNOTiFY was built to fulfill ALL existing NWS Console Replacement System (CRS) requirements. No other commercial system can make this claim. Using the iNOTiFY console, authorized operators can control all aspects of how information is broadcast over their assigned transmitters. Recorded and live audio services are also provided, as are controls to monitor/manage the remote transmitters.
Emergency Management Services
In every emergency, there is a need for private as well as public communications. Using the iNOTiFY browser and smart phone interfaces, Emergency Managers can communicate privately with their Emergency Support Function (ESF) teams using rich media (text, audio, and pictures) presented on a map display. SOS and Status functions are also available.
Electric Utility and Weather Services
Let iNOTiFY warn you up to 3 days in advance when dangerous weather conditions threaten your infrastructure or crews. This includes ice, wind, lightning, temperature and more. You set your own trigger levels on what you want to be notified of, and iNOTiFY will have your back. Once you are notified, iNOTiFY serves up a rich set of graphics that you can use as part of your decision making and preparedness process.
When the time arises for a public announcement to be made, the common web browser and smart phone interfaces can also be used to issue alerts, warnings and directions to the public via email, SMS, social media and even public address systems and sirens. Through the iNOTiFY public portal interface, individuals can specify what information they want to receive and how.
In a nutshell, iNOTiFY provides 4 vital emergency communications mechanisms; all within a SINGLE system.
The strength of iNOTiFY lies in its sound core which was developed under contract to the National Weather Service (NWS) to provide reliable nation-wide alert/warning geo-based dissemination services to: the public via the NWS grid of 1,000 FM transmitters; the public via the NWS web farm portal; and law enforcement via a user account managed web services portal. This piece of history is vital as it demonstrates the solid requirements-based foundation on which iNOTiFY was developed.
Seeing that the features of iNOTiFY could be directly applied to state and local emergency management needs, CommPower transformed iNOTiFY from a closed FEMA/National Weather Service dissemination system to serve a greater public emergency management mission.
For additional introductory information on the iNOTiFY system, please refer to the narrated presentation using the link below. This presentation begins with a powerful school related video that further strengthens the argument for holistic emergency management within our schools.iNOTiFY video
. . . But don't take our word for it! Please come by and check the system out for yourself. Visitors are always welcome. CommPower contact and location information can be found on our Contact page.
...Check out our latest News!!!
CommPower and SPIDI, LLC partner to bring forward-looking ice accumulation and ice damage prediction alerting services to Utilities
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 5, 2015: Officials with CommPower, Inc., of Camarillo, CA, and SPIDI Technologies, LLC, of Guthrie, OK, signed a mutually beneficial partnership agreement involving CommPower's "iNOTiFY" weather-warning alert system and SPIDI's "SPIA Index" ice damage prediction index for electric and communications utilities.
CommPower, Inc., CEO Kathy Nuckles said the agreement allows for further expansion of the capabilities of CommPower's "iNOTiFY" messaging system. "Electric and communications utilities worldwide face tremendous challenges when it comes to ice storm events. Our alliance with SPIDI Technologies, LLC, which developed the SPIA Index in early 2007, provides enhanced decision support and preparedness capabilities to utilities with overhead lines."
The SPIA Index is a forward-looking ice accumulation and ice damage prediction index that uses a proprietary algorithm in conjunction with forecast data from the National Weather Service's National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD). It is a tool created for utilities to restore electric and communications services more quickly and efficiently by providing pre-event guidance and decision-support.
Sid Sperry, CEO of SPIDI Technologies, LLC, said that CommPower's "iNOTiFY" weather-warning alert system was a 'perfect fit' for the SPIA Index. "The iNOTiFY system allows utilities to set their own critical alert parameters and 'triggers' ahead of potentially disastrous ice storms or other severe weather events. When utilities are better prepared, customers ultimately benefit through reduced outage times following an event."
CommPower and SPIDI Technologies are currently working with several utility entities across the U.S. to implement their combined technologies.
...And More News:
CommPower Wins Contract with Environment Canada to upgrade its Weatheradio Broadcast Service Technology
In keeping with its 30+ year tradition of providing innovative and highly distributed messaging solutions, CommPower secured an important win for its latest iNOTiFY alert/warning notification solution with a 4-year contract with Environment Canada.
Camarillo, California, June 16, 2014: CommPower was awarded a four-year contract with Environment Canada for the procurement, installation and operational support of CommPower’s iNOTiFY alert/warning technology in support of Canada’s Weatheradio program. When complete, this solution will utilize centralized Data Centers that continuously feed weather/warning broadcast information to Canada’s nationwide grid of 213 Weatheradio transmitters and phone trees; as well as eventually provide voice alerts to local TV/radio stations, with the option to extend into personal opt-in public notification services.
“This effort will propel Environment Canada into next generation notification services”, says Kathy Nuckles, CommPower President/CEO. “CommPower is thrilled to be Canada's partner in this effort.”
CommPower's iNOTiFY system is a full service emergency management and response solution the roots of which come from an aggressive 5-year NOAA Weather Radio modernization effort, funded by the U.S. National Weather Service, with focus on nationwide geo-based, multi-channel weather/warning distribution services. “To be able to take a cutting edge notification solution built for a mega nation and then offer that same technology commercially to countries, jurisdictions and organizations of any size is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often. This is a win-win for the entire emergency management community”, says John Codeus, CommPower’s Vice President for Applied Technology.
For Canada, the iNOTiFY system will receive text and audio formatted weather/warning messages prepared by meteorologists and authorized Government officials. Based on geo data contained therein, the system will automatically distribute the messages to the iNOTiFY broadcast assets, partners and systems that reside within the affected area(s). These iNOTiFY broadcast assets include full bilingual English and French Canadian text-to-speech hardware units (called ChatterBoxes) for Weatheradio transmission. Should Canada desire to extend into personal notification services such as social media, smart phone Apps, SMS and email, iNOTiFY can offer these services as well.
To see the full Press Release, please click here.
iNOTiFY Functional Architecture
At the center of the architecture is the iNOTiFY Hub hosted within a central data or COMMS center. This Hub component continually collects information from various sources and transforms that information into area-specific knowledge broadcasts. From the Hub, the knowledge broadcast data is disseminated to a variety of transmission endpoints for delivery to the public (external) and emergency responder teams. The figure below depicts the functional iNOTiFY architecture.
Take a look at the two scenarios below to see how iNOTiFY can be applied to real world emergencies.
Also, for a closer look at the physical components of the system, please click on the iNOTiFY Technical Environment tab above..
- iNOTiFY for Electric Utilities
- iNOTiFY for Schools
- iNOTiFY for Emergency Management
iNOTiFY continuously collects weather forecast data from the National Weather Service, Environment Canada and Earth Networks to determine if your infrastucture is threatened based on threshold values set by YOU. If these thresholds are violated, you will be immediately notified, allowing you ample time to take preparedness actions that could save you millions of dollars in restoration and recovery costs.
- The iNOTiFY Hub receives a smart phone generated alert message from a school employee announcing an intruder on campus.
- iNOTiFY receives this message which not only contains location data, but also a brief text description and picture of the unfolding event. Since this message is from a trusted source, iNOTiFY immediately begins creating the associated emergency broadcast programs.
- One such program is for the District Office emergency response team. Within this office is an iNOTiFY Emergency Responder Collaboration terminal that visually displays a map of the school location with activity markers depicting observation data submitted by the field observers. Using this data, the responder team can plan its response, issue notifications back to field observers, and submit updated instructions to the public.
- Knowledge-based programs are also generated for school broadcast via the public address system. For this type of broadcast, the iNOTiFY ChatterBox (or smaller TalkBox) unit generates a dynamic, cyclic, multilingual audio program that will play continually for the duration of the emergency event. These programs not only convey the emergency in effect, but also instructions stating what the teachers and students are supposed to do. As updated information is received, the broadcast program is updated to reflect what is happening now.
- For the general public, audience appropriate iNOTiFY knowledge is made available via a variety of popular interfaces including text, email and websites. For “pull” type interfaces, the user initiates the action to access the information; for “push” type interfaces, the user establishes an account with iNOTiFY as an opt-in/opt-out service. Additionally, iNOTiFY information can reach mobile users via the FEMA CMAS/WEA capability (noting that iNOTiFY supports an IPAWS interface that, in turn, feeds into CMAS/WEA).
- Once the emergency has ended, the iNOTiFY system will announce the conclusion of the emergency and automatically revert back to its non-emergency state, providing routine communications and broadcasts.
The strength of iNOTiFY lies in its ability to promote unified communication and collaboration among all parties during an emergency. Using iNOTiFY, critical weather/warning messages can flow from one Emergency Manager to the next, allowing each to add his/her content as desired to convey the proper context to the next recipient. No more will critical weather/warning information be dropped or lost in translation.
iNOTiFY Technical Environment
The iNOTiFY hub is a software solution that can be hosted on commercial grade servers or workstations. Ideally, iNOTiFY is offered as a hosted service, however, for large, expert customers, the iNOTiFY server images can be made available for installation onto commercial grade servers. These images represent RedHat Linux hosts, packaged as virtual machines. The minimum iNOTiFY core is comprised of 4 such images.
For low volume systems, this hub can be installed on a single server. Only when audio broadcasting services are desired is custom iNOTiFY hardware (i.e. ChatterBox and TalkBox) and/or commercial headsets required.
iNOTiFY ChatterBox and TalkBox
If desired, ChatterBox and TalkBox Endpoint Nodes can be deployed to any location requiring real-time, cyclic broadcast and/or siren activation services. When installed in an audio broadcast environment, the ChatterBox/TalkBox receives the broadcast programming for its assigned area, converts the text to audio in English and/or Spanish, and cyclically plays the resulting text and audio program via a local speaker, FM/TV broadcast feed, text crawl and/or public address system. The broadcast program timing (i.e. which messages will play when) is driven by configurable programming rules that take into account event severity and message category. Using these rule sets, some messages may play every X minutes; other messages may generate alert tones; still other messages may play canned lead-in announcements; etc.
As new data is received by the ChatterBox/TalkBox, it is immediately incorporated into the broadcast as directed by the iNOTiFY Hub. Thus, at all times, the listening area is kept informed regarding what is happening now; including specific/pertinent instructions informing the listeners what they are expected to do.
For siren activation, a single ChatterBox can activate one, multiple or all sirens via a backside comms radio connection.
iNOTiFY Operator Interface
Operator control of iNOTiFY is accomplished via intuitive browswer interfaces. The iNOTiFY Collaboration Terminal (or iCT; depicted to the right) is the workhorse of iNOTiFY. Using this map-based interface, emergency management personnel can communicate real time with the FEMA IPAWS network, their teams, and the public using text, audio and pictures.
iNOTiFY Mobile Observer App
Lastly, the figure below presents the iNOTiFY Mobile Observer App which can be activated from an authorized IOS or Android smart phone.
This App presents a Dashboard look and feel, meaning all critical functions are available from any screen with a single click. Functions supported include the following:
- Observation Submission: The user can create/submit a real time observation that includes text, audio, geo location data and pictures (multiple).
- Alert Tracking: All alerts within a given radius of the user’s current location will be displayed on a map. By configuring simple controls, the user can filter the alerts and view the complete details of any alert (text, audio, pictures).
- A panic button is provided to enable the user to quickly send a call for help to a pre-configured address as well as to the iNOTiFY Hub.