At the beginning of June, my hometown’s major league baseball team geared up for its annual trouncing by the New York Yankees. Which is why it pains me to say that I’ve discovered something really useful and positive coming out of New York this summer. I’ll be big and put my fanaticism behind me because this is really cool. It’s a branch of New York City’s government website called “Know Your Zone,” and it’s a combination of compiled resources and awareness-raising branding, all related to hurricane preparedness. The gist of New York’s hurricane preparation program is the division of the region into evacuation zones, all color-coded on bright and legible maps, and putting in place smooth communication systems to take care of each zones’ residents in the event of a storm. As far as I’m concerned, the genius of the site is the way it collects loads of information from several different offices and pages into one place—a sort of one-stop-shopping experience for hurricane preparedness. The main page is divided into three sections, with hurricane and evacuation FAQs at the bottom, and useful links and downloads in the middle, including these really smartly designed virtual badges for local businesses’ websites.
The top bit, though, is where the real meat is. Large, graphic buttons, with titles like “Replace Your Zone,” and “Make a Plan,” send you to other nyc.gov sites, where you can access resources like hurricane evacuation maps or the Office of Emergency Management’s videos and checklists. One of the buttons even shoots you over to the “Notify New York” program, where you can enroll to receive emergency updates via email, voicemail, or text. What I love so much about this is that it feels like a neighborhood emergency plan, but on a city-wide scale. Anything that serves the dual purpose of preparedness education and bringing communities together in a common effort gets my vote. Even if it does come from Yankee territory. What does your hometown have in place to deal with large-scale emergencies? -Stacey