Alameda County Office of Emergency Services launches “Know Your Zone” campaign with Zonehaven

Photo of Berkeley Emergency Services and Police building
Andrew Huang/Staff
Alameda County partners with Zonehaven in an effort to combat future Californian wildfires and other emergencies. The campaign “Know Your Zone” provides safety and information to public officials and citizens.

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The Office of Emergency Services, or OES, in Alameda County launched a Zonehaven “Know Your Zone” campaign Tuesday to prepare residents for future emergencies in their neighborhoods.

Working in conjunction with alert systems including AC Alert and CodeRED, Zonehaven, the company that developed the campaign, takes into account traffic and weather patterns to create egress routes, arrival points and shelters. According to Steve Sickler, Zonehaven’s head of field operations, Zonehaven also allows for efficient communication during real-time emergencies.

“What we’re designed to do is reduce reflex time between knowing you’re going to have to evacuate citizens and actually executing that evacuation order and getting that information out to the citizens,” Sickler said.

In a press release, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office attributed the need for Zonehaven to the devastating wildfires that threaten California on an annual basis.

Alameda County sheriff Gregory Ahern highlighted the efficient evacuations that took place during the CZU Lightning Complex fires, noting the importance of “pre-planned zones” and active communication between public safety officials.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office used Zonehaven to evacuate and repopulate 75,000 members of the community, according to Sickler.

“This campaign is designed to continue education around preparedness and what to do when an emergency impacts your zone,” Ahern said in the press release. “The Office of Emergency Services welcomed this collaborative effort between fire, law enforcement and Zonehaven to activate ‘Know Your Zone’ in Alameda County.”

The OES; Berkeley Fire Department, or BFD; Berkeley Police Department and the Department of Public Works mapped out the city and created evacuation zones in a collaborative effort, according to BFD assistant chief Keith May.

The multi-agency team determined the size of zones by examining the number of cars and structures in each location.

“We worked with Zonehaven and all those agencies to create the pre-plan,” May said. “If there’s a particular street corner or intersection that we can anticipate (is) going to back up, (we) prioritize those intersections.”

Berkeley City Council also revealed plans to install a network of warning sirens, called an Outdoor Warning System, or OWS, throughout the city, according to a Berkeleyside article. The system will be provided by a company called Genasys and will be implemented alongside Zonehaven.

According to May, the warning system will alert residents with important information during evacuations.

The OES will also be releasing informational material to educate community members on how to navigate emergencies by using Zonehaven’s community website. Sickler suggested that residents familiarize themselves with the Zonehaven website or app in order to prepare for future emergencies ahead of time.

“Get involved by really becoming familiar with the website,” May said. “Know what zone you’re in and go back frequently to see if there are any updates.”

Contact Kavya Gupta at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @kavyaguptta.