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San Diego County Unveils New and Improved Emergency Website

During the 2007 wildfires the county's emergency website was overwhelmed by people trying to get information—the website is much more prepared now.

San Diego County's new emergency website has been unveiled at a Board of Supervisors meeting.

Three related sites – readysandiego.org, sdcountyemergency.com and sdcountyrecovery.com – were rolled into a "one stop shop" with tabs for disaster readiness, emergency response and recovery, which will remain temporarily accessible from all three Internet addresses, according to Holly Crawford, director of the county's Office of Emergency Services.

"We now have one website with vastly improved capabilities that encompasses all of these topics," Crawford said, adding that Microsoft Corp. donated its services, including cloud data storage.

People can subscribe to services, such as the county's reverse-911 notification system in case of emergencies, and exchange information with the county via social networking site, Crawford said. The site, managed by the Office of Emergency Services and the County Communications Office, also features maps and has a searchable list of emergency shelters, she said.     

County officials realized they needed to improve the emergency website during the 2007 wildfires, when the site was overwhelmed by people trying to get wildfire information, Crawford said.

"In this case we were kind of victims of our own success," she said. "When major news networks posted our emergency website on their website, traffic to our website really skyrocketed and the site was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of hits," she said.     

Bill Horn, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said Tuesday that the website should help the county keep up with technological advances.

"The new state-of-the-art site allows us to get important updates to residents quickly on their computers and on their mobile devices. And, it was developed at no cost to the taxpayers," Horn said.

Crawford said the site could save taxpayers up to $64,000 per year, assuming no major disasters, Crawford said.

The board also directed county staffers to look at the structure and functions of the Commission on Children,Youth and Families and recommend improvements. A report is expected in 60 days.

"Improvement is needed, and this commission warrants a high level of review and reorganization," Supervisor Greg Cox said.

Cox said the 45-member Commission on Children, Youth and Families could do a better job of serving children who are wards of the county and those in low-income and at-risk families with "improved structure and operations."

-City News Service

Brian Hanifin December 07, 2011 at 05:13 PM
The mysterious "Cloud" part of this solution is the most important part of this announcement! A "Cloud" hosted website will NOT be overwhelmed with a spike of visitors. Traditional websites are hosted on a single server. A single server can only handle so many visitors at one time. With a "Cloud" based website - which is hosted on a service like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services - a spike in visitors causes the visitors to be spread among as many servers as are required to meet the demand. So next time we have a wildfire or earthquake these county websites should be available when we need it! :-)

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