Web extra: Local business group pitches in with alerts

In Collier County, Fla., a nonprofit economic development organization has pitched in to improve the state’s disaster preparedness efforts by installing technology that keeps local business owners informed of disaster-related information. The Economic Development Council (EDC) of Collier County blasts alert messages and requests that business owners quickly respond with damage reports. The goal is to let the county immediately begin efforts to help finance recovery after disasters, such as hurricanes or terrorist attacks.

“We recently put in a bridge loan program of short-term loans up to $25,000, which can be dispensed within 24 hours to help businesses recover from disaster-related damage,” said Tammie Nemecek, Collier County’s EDC president. “Because of the short timeframe, we have the need to get information out quickly and to assess the kind of damage that’s occurred.”

Collier County tapped Neighborhood America to provide its hosted MOVO service, which provides Web-based management of SMS alerts. Agencies pay for the turnkey service through an enterprise license that can range from $10,000 to $50,000, plus the cost of SMS fees, which typically cost three to five cents per SMS transaction, said Kim Patrick Kobza, Neighborhood America’s chief executive officer.

Kobza said the software-as-a-service model appeals especially to smaller agencies that may lack IT employees to build internal citizen alert applications. “They are not subject to the development and adoption risk that accompany large-scale IT software development projects,” he said.

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