Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Multi-Language Emergency Warnings in Minnesota

Posted on by Blog Administrator

ECHO Meeting attendees

By: Lillian McDonald

Tech savviness is a hallmark of the millennial generation. They are the first generation to replace landlines, crayons and typewriters with smartphones, laptops, and tablets. They have phased out the communication, education, and work processes of the baby boomer generation in favor of faster more technologically advanced solutions. There is no doubt this rapid adoption of technology is significantly changing the speed and accuracy of how information is processed and shared. Emergency education and communication departments are particularly benefitting from new technology. Apps like mobile GPS storm trackers have dramatically transformed the field of public health and emergency response by increasing public awareness before, during, and after severe weather. Today, smartphone emergency alerts are replacing storm sirens and social media is providing faster disaster coverage than weather radios. Technology is providing faster more pinpointed surveillance of natural and planned emergency events and innovative messaging and communication networks are allowing public health and emergency response officials to better reach larger and more diverse communities.

Minnesota Emergency & Community Health Outreach, or ECHO, is one such program that is using technology to address the emergency preparedness and response needs of their community. By leveraging text to speech technology, ECHO has created Spanish, Hmong, and Somali language warnings and alerts that extend their emergency response to include the immigrants and refugees living in their community. Known as the Minnesota Multi-Language Alerting Initiative this 15-month project led by ECHO in partnership with Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) will expand the emergency response linguistic reach of the current Common Alerting Protocol, which only provides alerts in English.

ECHO meeting attendeesThrough funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, ECHO hopes to use Minnesota Multi-Language Alerting Initiative to lay the groundwork for multi-language emergency warning and alert systems and eventually support national efforts to improve emergency messaging and delivery through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning Systems.

ECHO is a non-profit organization whose founding mission engages limited English proficiency residents in emergency preparedness initiatives. Founded in 2004, ECHO has developed a team of bi-lingual ambassadors in 12 languages that work alongside ECHO to create programs and services that help people be healthy, contribute, and succeed.

The combined community engagement, new technology, and a process for delivering messages supported by cultural context across diverse communities is viewed as a best practice enhancing health and safety initiatives. The first messages are due out this fall, with final outcomes in the spring of 2015. For more information, please contact ECHO’s executive director, Lillian McDonald.

Posted on by Blog AdministratorTags , , , , ,

3 comments on “Multi-Language Emergency Warnings in Minnesota”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    ECHO represents a transformation in risk communication unstated in this excellent article. Prior to ECHO, reaching limited English populations usually meant having key messages delivered in English by a majority culture spokesperson (usually a white male).and presented in various languages through closed captions. The revolutionary change that ECHO introduced was the engagement of these under-served communities so that the messages are now delivered by representatives of each of the communities in their own spoken language with closed captioning in English!

    I think this initiative is a great culturally relative idea in helping those whose first language is not English. I think there need to be more initiatives similar to this one across the country. Great Work!

    This is a great idea that should be taken seriously in our world today especially here in America. America is very multicultural and does have many things to show for it. There are many people around where I live that speak only Spanish or only Vietnamese. If there was a true emergency many of those citizens would not be able properly protect themselves. However, how would you decide how many languages are sufficient enough?

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments posted become a part of the public domain, and users are responsible for their comments. This is a moderated site and your comments will be reviewed before they are posted. Read more about our comment policy »

TOP