Logan Lake district to develop app that provides updates on public emergencies

Logan Lake's fire chief wants to ensure that timely survival information is delivered to residents during emergencies. And now he has the funding to do just that.

Dan Leighton, fire chief and emergency coordinator for Logan Lake, B.C. is developing an app to provide updates to local residents about emergencies like wildfires, flooding, storms, road closures or chemical spills.

The Logan Lake area, located southwest of Kamloops, was hit with a wildfire during the 2018 wildfire season.

The district is one of four recipients of a provincial grant, given to select communities that use technology and data to improve their infrastructure. Leighton will receive $38,650 to develop the app for Logan Lake. 

Leighton says that during an emergency, it is difficult for residents to get quick information.

"The biggest part of any emergency is communication. History tells us that the public wants information … and today we want it mostly in real time," Leighton told Radio West host Sarah Penton.

How the app will work

Once Logan Lake's fire and rescue department responds to a disaster incident that affects the public, it will send out a notification through the app.

The app will have a 'push notification,' meaning once a person opens and reads the message, the push is sent back to the department alerting them to how many people are using the app and have been notified of the emergency​.

Some provincial and federal emergency agencies have apps that update residents on crises including wildfire activity, road closures and road detour information, according to Leighton.

But he says the information on these apps is often not sent fast enough.

"When you're on the road, sometimes trying to get a road report quick enough is frustrating."

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Leighton says his app will send out notifications in real time, sharing information on road closures and alternative routes. In certain situations, these updates could be sent every 15 minutes.

While many people turn to social media for updates on emergencies, Leighton warned this information is not always accurate.

"With social media, you never know what's the truth and what's not the truth … because there's so many people adding to it, and going back and forth.

"With this app, there is no back and forth. It is a one-way transmission. And we're putting out the most current and accurate advice to the residents."

Leighton is currently working with a developer on the app, but does not yet have a date for the project's launch.

Listen to the full interview here: 

With files from Radio West.