At the moment, we’re staring at what could be a nationwide flu epidemic in the face. If that’s the case, our emergency communications systems, including IVR, should start kicking into gear.
Interactive voice response, or IVR, systems have been playing a role in emergency notification systems in recent years. Hospitals use them to automatically notify their staff of emergency situations. Fire departments use them to alert firefighters, such as during the large-scale brush fires we have in Colorado.
But government agencies are also starting to use IVR systems to notify ordinary citizens. In the case of the wildfires or flooding during 2012, for example. Why? Because they connect directly to our most common form of communication, the mobile phone.
And now we have another situation: a possible flu epidemic. According to the Boston Globe, Mayor Thomas Menino has declared a flu emergency for the city because of the high number of confirmed cases this year.
The Globe said Boston’s clinic waiting rooms are overflowing and “hospitals are scrambling to find beds for patients made miserable by high fevers, breathing problems and dehydration.”
According to the Guardian, Boston has 700 confirmed cases of the flu so far—already dwarfing last year’s tally of 70 for the entire flu season.
“This is the worst flu season we’ve seen since 2009, and people should take the threat of flu seriously,” said Mayor Menino, according to the Guardian. “This is not only a health concern but also an economic concern for families, and I’m urging residents to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.”
Actually, the Guardian says this may the worst flu season in a decade. Just getting over the flu myself (hopefully), I’m not exactly relishing this news. I don’t want to go through that again—it was a doozy.