511PAConnect is a new, trapped-traveler emergency communications tool that allows incident response teams to communicate via automated phone or text message directly with motorists who are trapped in a roadway backup. The tool also gives emergency crews a clearer picture of who is sitting in a trapped vehicle and where they are, so agencies can better plan for the use of resources.
511PAConnect is not a mobile app and requires no initial download or action from motorists.
511PAConnect will only be activated during prolonged, emergency roadway stoppages that are expected to last four or more hours. Upon activation PEMA will send a push message to all phones in the incident area. This message will provide motorists who are impacted instructions for how to participate and receive further information throughout the incident.
This is how it works:
- PEMA will send a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) message, similar to an Amber Alert, which is geo-targeted specifically to those in the trapped backlog of vehicles.
- Affected travelers will be instructed to visit 511PAConnect.com to register for closure updates by providing their phone number and other information such as the type of vehicle and number of occupants.
- Affected travelers select if they wish to receive updates and other safety information by text message or automated phone call.
- Motorists will also be asked permission for the system to get their cell phone location; this allows the incident response team to get a better picture of the backlog, who is trapped and where they are located.
- The system does not request personal information. Phone numbers will be erased once the incident is closed.
- Motorists approaching but not yet trapped in the backup may receive a WEA message before they reach the impacted area.