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As California burns, buggy alerting software ails emergency offices

August 25, 2020

As wildfires continue tearing through California, two northern counties on Tuesday reported technical problems with the emergency alerting platforms used to warn the public.

In Northern California, where the still-raging LNU Lightning Complex fire has burned through 352,000 acres and killed five people, Napa County emergency management officials told StateScoop they initially planned to use a national platform called the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS, to warn residents to “remain vigilant in the event subsequent evacuations were called for given the late night hour.” But while creating a message using software from the company Everbridge, an error message forced officials to switch to a different Everbridge product, called Nixle, said Janet Upton, a spokesperson for Napa County Emergency Services.

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