LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles’ chief auditor and accountant says the city’s mass emergency notification system is not fully accessible because its messages are limited to mostly English.
A report released Tuesday by City Controller Ron Galperin says the system known as NotifyLA is in need of a series of changes to be more effective and accessible.
Run by the Emergency Management Department (EMD), NotifyLA uses a free subscription service to push out immediate alerts to land lines or cell phones, and can also send emails and targeted wireless emergency alerts.
But according to Galperin, the system is inconsistently disseminated and should translate notifications into other languages beyond just English and Spanish, the latter of which accounts for just 21 percent of alerts since 2014.
Galperin says EMD should provide translations into other Armenian, Chinese, Korean, and other “commonly spoken languages.” The report cites emergency notification systems within L.A. County and the Los Angeles Unified School District that each support a minimum of five languages. New York City offers pre-scripted emergency alerts in 13 languages, according to the report.NotifyLA Report Final
Citing census data for 2009-2013 that found nearly half – 46 percent – of the population in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metropolitan area spoke English less than “very well”, the report points out that Beverly Hills has set up messages in Farsi and Glendale is in the process of “addressing needs for Armenian, Korean, and Tagalog speakers.”
“We are collectively falling short on providing an emergency notification system that should be more widely disseminated and accessible to more Angelenos,” wrote Galperin. “The city can do better and I am confident that working together, we can improve.”
The report calls on EMD to develop a plan that includes any additional funding to facilitate translations of the city’s emergency alerts.
NotifyLA is a free service. Just sign up on notifyla.org or text 888777 and type “yes” or your zip code.