Auckland Civil Defence launches iPhone app for emergency alerts

Civil Defence able to push emergency alerts via social media platfrom developed by Cloud M

For Auckland city, it’s an important addition to the way it can communicate in the event of a civil defence emergency. For vendor Cloud M, it’s another application on the company's fast-growing platform for communities of interest, which has worldwide opportunity.

Auckland launched its Civil Defence Alerting Platform and an advanced iPhone application, yesterday. Within four hours there were 3600 downloads of the app, which alerts the public to emergencies, or updates them during events such as earthquakes.

Cloud M says the app means that Civil Defence can get the word out rapidly via the web, email, SMS and Apple push notifications, providing a single source of truth, and, via the iPhone application, connecting to the young audience who live their lives on mobile and social networks.

Richard Gill, Cloud M founder and CEO, developed the product as a platform for rapidly tailoring, deploying and hosting customer communities, enabling associations and franchises to extend their reach by providing their communities with industry-specific applications.

Gill says the app is based on a white label product that can be rebranded.

“We designed the platform for building communities,” he says.

“Auckland city approached us about civil defence. A councillor literally had a design on a napkin.

“The council wanted to engage in a very social way and chose the iPhone to lead that. Innovation and learning will play out from that application. In fact, we’ve built a hybrid application so that any smart phone can access it.

“We’ve also built an alerting platform for civil defence so they can update information and disseminate it from the web, via emails, text and social media.”

Auckland city also uses the Readynet emergency management system that shares information between councils’ emergency management offices and with police 111 call centres.

Cloud M also has two commercial iPhone applications aimed at industry groups. SalonFinder helps consumers find, learn about, rate and be offered deals from around 35,000 hair and beauty salons across Australia and New Zealand. Your Choice Fitness, similarly, offers information and deals for around 5000 gyms and fitness centres across Australia.

Gill says other applications will soon be launched in the health and food sectors.

The big target is the US. “We’re hosted mostly on the East coast of the US, with redundant sites on the West coast. We haven’t been able to identify a New Zealand partner for hosting because of price, performance and availability.”

Cloud M’s platform is an end-to-end system for delivering capability applications across multiple platforms, according to Cloud M. The back end is a cloud-provisioned, scalable enterprise grade server infrastructure that enables rapid integration and custom development capability. Client software is based on Cloud M’s appCore technology, which provides 100 percent native implementations for each client platform.

Gill says the market is crowded with bespoke applications that are expensive to maintain and upgrade, and generic application builders.

“You need to understand that if you have a web site, it’s about you as a company. But with a smart phone, it’s about the user as a person. Push versus pull.”

Gill has successfully founded and commercialised three technology businesses. The first was Current Technologies, a systems integration and consulting business that achieved multi-million-dollar revenues. The next was Monstar Labs and its Startrax product, a pioneer in digital broadcasting technologies for radio and TV. It was the first to develop 100 percent PC-based digital music automation. The product was rebranded in a partnership with IBM and sold to a Texan software company in 1997.

He then founded Cyberglue, a software pioneer in internet content management systems, eCommerce and eLearning platforms, which was sold to business partners in 2008.

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