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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2013 7 years ago

Emergency Communications Network: Selling safety

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The city relies on the Ormond Beach-based Emergency Communications Network to keep residents safe and informed during emergencies, like the fire on Durrance Lane.

BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER

When the Emergency Communications Network was founded, in 1996, it was called The Broadcast Team, and it used automatic phone-dialing software to let residents know when direct mail was on its way.

And the business model worked, says ECN' President and CEO David Digiacomo.

“(The company) started investing in infrastructure to do more and more calls everyday,” Digiacomo said. “Because, of course, when you’re in marketing and advertising, calls mean dollars.”

It would be that same in-house infrastructure, Digiacomo said, that allowed the company to make an important shift: from direct-mail notifications to what it does today, which is deliver emergency alerts to residents throughout the country, like during last week's Durrance Lane fire.

It’s first client for this new purpose was the Ormond Beach Fire Department, which approached the company during a 1998 wildfire outbreak. The department, Digiacomo said, needed additional resources to alert residents of evacuation notices.

“As the story goes, (at) 8 a.m., we literally recorded the voice files that said, ‘You need to evacuate,’” Digiacomo said. “We gave the the fire chief the secret code (to initiate a call), and by 10 a.m., he had already launched (a message) to evacuate.”

A wildfire had shifted and was approximately 30 minutes from reaching ECN headquarters, making the company one of the first beneficiaries of its new service.

Today, Emergency Communications Network has given up the marketing side of the business to focus solely on emergency communications, providing its services, Digiacomo said, to 70% of the counties and 30% of the cities in Florida.

It was a transition made possible by the internet boom in the early 2000s.

“The technology just kind of crested at the right time,” Digiacomo said. “In 2004 and 2005, when we got hit with all the bad hurricanes throughout Florida, everybody was using our system and it was a success, all the way around.”

The city of Ormond Beach still uses Emergency Communications Network, but Volusia County has since switched providers.

The company has developed a mobile app, which delivers emergency notifications based on the phone’s GPS location. As the trend shifts away from landlines to cell phones, it’s how Digiacomo said the company will try to stay ahead of the curve.

Stay safe

To ensure that you're on the list of city-issued emergency notifications, CLICK HERE.

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