At Tuesday's Williamson County Commissioners Court meeting, emergency management department staff formally announced the launch of a new mobile app, WilCo READY, which will help county residents navigate disasters.
Emergency Management Coordinator Jarred Thomas said the app is a one-stop shop for up-to-date alerts and information regarding emergencies in Williamson County. WilCo READY is available for free download on both Android and iOS operating systems.
The app is comprehensive, Thomas said, and includes resources for emergency situations, such as how to prepare and react to floods, tornadoes, wildfires and thunderstorms.
WilCo READY even includes a feature that allows users to generate their own emergency plans and shopping kits tailored to the number of people in their family.
Users can also create a list of contacts such as friends and family in the app to be notified of a user's safety status in times of emergencies.
A map function allows residents to find hospitals, police stations and animal shelters near them. However, Thomas said the primary source of emergency alerts and evacuation notices will remain warncentraltexas.org.
The map feature shows users' location in proximity to locations such as hospitals, as shown here.[/caption]
“We wanted to make sure that everyone in Williamson County had an opportunity to develop and maintain a family preparedness plan,” Thomas said.
Emergency management is already beginning work on future upgrades, Thomas said. One feature his department is working on is allowing users to self-report damage near them through the app using geolocation.
County Judge Dan Gattis said the public, not having been aware of the behind-the-scenes preparation for the app, may not realize WilCo READY's significance.
“We get people asking, ‘Why do you spend all this money on preparing?’” Gattis said. “Well, it’s not important until you need it. And then in that moment, you need it really bad.”
Download the WilCo READY app here for iOS and here for Android.