ATCEMS early test partner for new Facebook alert system

We all get them, push notifications from different apps on our computers and mobile devices.

Although Facebook isn't a news organization, they're rolling out a new alert system to help users receive important information as soon as it happens.

Commander Mike Benavides has been with ATCEMS for 26 years, and he says it's been helping their 21-thousand-plus followers on Facebook for the past few months. Now there will be even more engagement and a broader cross section of the community.

"It's been working great you can obviously see when we send out a local alert," he said.

Facebook said ATCEMS was one of their earliest test partners and one of 350 agencies across the US. Facebook says these local alerts are meant to be an additional platform for emergency responders and local governments to get info out during everyday emergencies like water main breaks and road closures, or more extreme events like national disasters, mandatory evacuations and active shooters.

"It doesn't matter what the information is if you're specifically sending out an action message whether it's ‘run hide fight' or if there's a shelter in place for a weather event that's going on," Benavides said.

Facebook says they created local alerts after people told them they wanted more local news and community information. Feedback from people surveyed who had seen posts during the testing was highly positive, which encouraged them to roll this out nationally

Facebook says three out of four people (73%) reported the posts provided new information they hadn't seen elsewhere, and nearly half (43%) took an action as a result of the information.

ATCEMS says they even helped change a few things for the final product of the alert system.

"One of the things that came out of that was the ability to target specific areas in a community similar to another app that allows you to do that feature, and we were able to get that brought on board," Benavides says.

If you want to receive local alerts on Facebook, be sure to follow the Facebook page(s) of the first responders in Austin.