Just in time for the first week of hurricane season, the city of Gainesville launched an emergency and storm website to act as a centralized platform for residents.
SafeGNV.org serves as a hub for official updates on traffic, weather, bus routes, emergency information, storm shelters and evacuation. The site is part of a larger initiative called Citizen Centered Gainesville, said Carrie Bush, the group’s director.
By centralizing the location for official updates, area residents can find necessary information including where to find free Wi-Fi and find tweets on where Gainesville Police or Gainesville Fire Rescue are
responding to calls . The site also allows users to upload information and pictures of things they see around town, like a broken phone line or a fallen tree. “(We’re) putting it in a conversational, visual way to see what supplies you need to have on hand in case of a hurricane,” Bush said.
Although there is no mobile application yet, the website has been optimized for mobile use, since the designers anticipate most users will access the site from a mobile device, she said.
For people who are not comfortable with online or do not have internet access, public information officials will be used as information points for residents who require face-to-face interaction, Bush said. In emergencies, traditional emergency phone lines will remain open and operational.
Residents need one place where they can get and give information in case something happens, said Anthony Lyon, the city manager. The city is currently trying to redesign how its government works by trying to think about government and services the way city residents might.
“We think of various departments doing each individual thing,” he said. “Citizens think of city government as one thing.”
When people are looking for official information, they usually want it in one location, he said. The website is the first of many initiatives planned to explore different solutions to miscommunication issues.
The Gainesville City Commission approved the website in February, which will be paid for using the city budget. Although the total cost is not final yet, the city estimated it to be nearly $10,000.
Gainesville Fire Rescue’s
Twitter feed and other updates are uploaded directly to the website so users can see active calls in progress. GFR Operations Chief Michael Cowart said that the website and social media outreach, which will be crucial during storm season, will help bridge the information gap and make it easier to get in touch with residents.