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The .tel domain is helpful in crisis situations

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Alex
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The .tel domain is helpful in crisis situations

Post by Alex on Fri 07 Sep 2012, 7:29 pm

During and after a major fire in the Netherlands authorities failed to communicate adequately with their citizens. The .tel domain can be very helpful to improve government communication in crisis situations.

By Edwin van Rooyen on 31st August 2012



The Netherlands witnessed a major fire in January 2011. It happened in Moerdijk, a village in the province of North Brabant. On the 5th of January 2011 the fire broke out at Chemie Pack, a company that provided services to third parties in the form of the mixing and packaging of chemicals. Large quantities of chemicals were involved in the fire and a huge cloud of smoke went to the city of Dordrecht and environs.

The health of citizens and aid workers was in danger. Fighting the fire in this major conflagration appeared to be very difficult. Exploding barrels and tanks, the presence of unknown chemicals and high heat made it hard reach the blaze. Around 00.15 hours, almost ten hours after the first alarm, the fire was under control.

Inadequate management

Soon criticism erupted. Local and regional authorities were not adequately prepared for a major fire. There were no decisiveness and clear leadership during the extinguishing. At least 20 citizens and 150 aid workers have health problems that may be caused by the fire. Communication during and after the disaster, between those involved in disaster management as well as towards citizens, was inadequate. A week after the fire three ministers (Security, Health, Environment) discussed details of the disaster in an emergency debate with the Dutch House of Representatives. Critical reports on ‘Moerdijk’ have been published by the Labour Inspection and the Public Order and Safety Inspection (IOOV). Another report, by the Research Council for Safety, appeared earlier this year.

Communication problems

In terms of communication with the citizens the IOOV identified various problems. They note that basic information sources (website, phone number) were available only 5,5 hours after the first alarm. The air-raid alarm in and in the vicinity of Moerdijk didn’t go off. SMS alerts were not delivered. Local and regional news media (‘emergency transmitters’) published obsolete information. Busses kept driving according to their normal schedule, whereas people were advised to remain indoors. News media couldn’t contact national or local public relations officers via the phone numbers they were given. People received conflicting information about whether or not dangerous substances had come in the air.

IOOV conclusion

In their conclusions the IOOV state: 'Input required by the population has to be accessible and not too long-winded. There have to be multiple possibilities for people to get information. The expertise of various information sources (safety regions, public health service, 0800-1351, etc.) is very important. The population must know where it can address certain issues and must not be sent from pillar to post. Indeed, it was reported that for various forms of information one could contact various authorities, but then one must be sure that all affairs are in order and information actually is obtainable' (p. 57, own translation).

The .tel domain

We may assume that national, regional and local authorities have learned their lessons and will improve their functioning in crisis situations. They need to secure that their organisations are well prepared for next disasters. Much of the solutions, of course, lie within the organisations themselves. However, innovation can be part of the solutions too. Here’s where the .tel domain comes in.

Permanent point of contact

A .tel domain, created by Telnic, enables the owner to put contacting first and integrate all pieces of (contact) information one wants to bring to the attention of others. It is accessible from any device connected to the internet, including traditional cell phones, Blackberry's, iPhones, Androids, personal digital assistants, computers, etc. It’s quicker than quick, simple, and secure (see Telnic's guide to .tel). It can be claimed that .tel is the most permanent point of contact possible and therefore the most reliable one.

One click

What, then, is more logical than to smoothen communication in crisis situations such as ‘Moerdijk’ with the help of a .tel domain? All contact information can be safely stored and made accessible via specific folders. Visitors can pull contact information from the .tel and make contact with just one click from their mobile. Suppose you are a resident of Moerdijk and want to know if you can go home from work. Suppose you are in the city of Dordrecht and you want to know whether you need to stay indoors. Or maybe you want to inform authorities about a strange odour in the air. Or suppose you want to know whether busses are still driving in the region.

Follow-up reference

With a .tel domain all those people can be guided to phone numbers, e-mail addresses, website information, social media channels, the Wiki page where they can share information with others, etc. To make sure text information is available in case websites are ‘off air’, this information also can be stored on the .tel domain. Moreover, the .tel domain is the best follow-up reference possible when sending text messages to mobile phones, whether through SMS alerts or via cell-broadcasting.

Have a look at http://crisisinfo.tel

A text message to all mobile phone owners in the crisis region would look like this:



Note that all communication details on a .tel domain can be made accessible for specific groups only. For instance, specific contact information of hospitals, municipalities, fire brigades, police etc. can be made available in an optimal way just for aid workers. Or for crisis management teams. Authorities could decide to store contact information of departments, officers, etc. on their .tel domain without making it public. The minute a disaster occurs they can give public or specific groups access to that information and start communication.

Birdsong Europe has its own .tel domain, see http://birdsong.tel

Source: BirdSong


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ntervu
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Re: The .tel domain is helpful in crisis situations

Post by ntervu on Sat 08 Sep 2012, 11:20 pm

Alex...

Thanks for posting this. Edwin is a long time supporter of the platform and advocate for the ongoing promotion of its application in the community.



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Dan Prather
www.danprather.tel

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