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Friday, Feb 3, 2023
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Scaling Up Earthquake Response

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from the original version published on June 29, 2015 to correct the spelling of Chief Executive Jaime Ellertson and Nixle Inc. Also, Cinta Putra is the company’s former, not current, chief financial officer. With Hollywood pumping out big budget earthquake flicks and Angelenos worried whether the next rattle is a precursor to the “big one,” disaster planning is a timely issue. That’s just fine with Everbridge Inc., a Glendale crisis communications company which has technology that was employed in response to Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombings, among other disasters. “In the case of a tsunami on the West Coast or the East Coast, or in the case of a tornado in the Midwest, you have minutes to make a decision,” said Chief Executive Jaime Ellertson. “We automate the process of communicating with people.” The system allows companies and governments to quickly send mass messages through telephones, email, text messages, pagers and road signs. It is cloud based and requires the client to do little more than input the message in an email-like interface where it is processed by Everbridge – including translation into different languages if required – and sent out to employees or the publc. The software is available in 156 countries, and the company boasts having about 3,500 customers, ranging from hospitals to municipalities to corporations. Locally, Los Angeles International Airport utilizes Everbridge for mass notifications to its thousands of employees, such as when there is a lost child. Costs range between $1,000 and $1 million a year, based on the number of users and the volume of information sent. The company was co-founded in 2002 by entrepreneurs Cinta Putra, the former chief financial officer, and James Keen, who continues to serve as executive vice president. The company is expanding. Earlier this year, it received $1.9 million from four private investors to acquire Nixle Inc., a San Francisco company that has broadened its capabilities. The company’s technology is similar to Everbridge’s but tailored for communications with residents in communities. The L.A. Mayor’s Office has bought Nixle’s technology for local use. “We can actually scribe a polygon on a map and notify specific communities,” said James Featherstone, general manager of the city’s emergency management department. “It actually gives us the opportunity to be more focused on the communities, or even block by block, that we notify.” However, Everbridge is in a market with many competitors. For example, Los Angeles County Fire Department notifies employees through radios and cell phones, and landlines if necessary. “All of our units use cellphones, but also if the cell phone companies were to go down, we have a landline utilization,” said Keith Mora, a department spokesman. Everbridge, which has about 500 employees and grossed $50 million last year, is also moving into new markets as it expands. Notably, it released an app for smartphones in January that allows medical personnel to send patient data with encryption so it does not violate federal privacy rules. “We do make the world a safer place and a better place,” Ellertson said. – Mateo Melero

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