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San Diego County Emergency Services Unveil Improved Mobile App

Evening Edition

Aired 1/7/14 on KPBS News.

San Diego County authorities Monday unveiled an upgraded “SD Emergency” Apple and Android mobile devices app that offers more features for emergency planning.

San Diego County authorities Monday unveiled an upgraded “SD Emergency” Apple and Android mobile devices app that offers more features for emergency planning.

The upgrade will allow users to share disaster plans created in the app with family members and friends, and will send notifications when food, water and other items assembled for a home emergency kit expire. The emergency maps also now include universal icons, like fire symbols, to overcome language barriers.

San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts led the effort to improve the app.

"We're asking all San Diegans to ‘Resolve to be Ready’ in 2014, and the improved app makes it easy to keep that resolution," Roberts said. "The new version has everything you need to prepare for disasters that affect San Diego, like wildfires, and users will find the new sharing capabilities, notifications and other features very compelling and useful."

Holly Crawford, director of the county Office of Emergency Services, said San Diegans need to be prepared because disasters don’t offer much notice.

"Fortunately, we've avoided a major wildfire like those in 2007 or 2003 since the app's creation," Crawford said. "Still, with this year's near-record drought and winter Santa Anas and the real possibility of large-scale fires every year in our region, we know it's a matter of ‘when' not ‘if.’ Mobile device users will turn to SD Emergency in the next regional disaster, and it will be an important resource."

The app already offers disaster preparedness information and interactive checklists to help create emergency plans and build an emergency supply kit.

After a disaster, it provides emergency information, with maps and shelter locations.

The county Office of Emergency Services is offering a free two-person camping tent donated by Target to the first 3,000 people to download the app, fill out the plan and register their cell phones or email addresses with AlertSanDiego -- the county's mass calling system.

The app is available on iTunes and Google Play. More information is available on the county of San Diego website.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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