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Strategies to Provide Additional Information in a WEA


Boil Water PSA

This is a great WEA for illustrating the strategies to include additional information. Sometimes, the content that you need or want to provide in a WEA is just too long to fit into the limited character fields. We have a few options to address this problem and they’re ALL included in this single message:


First, which seems to be a common pattern, is to start abbreviating words. This is not recommended – not every message receiver is going to understand the shorthand that is used by experts. For the message posted here, locals may know what PSA means, but it sure looks like a Public Service Announcement update to us.


Second, you can add a phone number to call for more information. This is a risky solution if you have a large population and few resources to answer a ringing phone. For this message, the phone number is included with instructions that only those who are physically unable to go to the fire department and need special assistance.


Third, you can add a URL or shortened weblink. The URL is generally considered more trustworthy, especially if it goes to a website that is recognizable. But in this case, the sender uses what appears to be a custom bit.ly directing people to ”mc” (representing the Montgomery County webpage) where additional information is posted about the boil water. They cleverly use the calendar/latest news tab to provide updates to the community.


Fourth, announced just a week ago, you can make use of the Instructions field, which will show additional information to the receiver, but only to those who have an iPhone running iOS17 or later. This new capability offers message senders 600 new characters of text, but it is not going to be delivered to everyone – only the select few who have the right phone and the right software.

This message is doing a lot of work to communicate in a very limited space – the message writers are using all the tricks available to increase information. We really like the use of the URL for simplicity and for equity.


What are your thoughts? Please comment below.


 

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