Facebook is expanding it’s Local Alerts product to state and territory Health, police and central government Facebook Pages after a successful launch late last year to Fire and Emergency Service Agencies.

The Local Alerts function allows authorities to communicate urgently with wider audiences, basically pushing out a “post” as an alert with a warning Emoji attached to give it impact, but also we suspect bypassing the algorithm to ensure the notification hits as many page followers and local users as possible.

Analysis of the product in the US showed that page posts marked as Local Alerts gained over 250% more views than average page posts.

Josh Machin, Head of Public Policy, Australia at Facebook said “We are very pleased to be expanding Local Alerts access to all eligible health, police and government state and territory pages in Australia. Since the rollout of this feature 6 months ago to Australian fire and emergency services, we’ve seen Local Alerts used to provide critical and real-time information during bushfire, cyclone and flood emergency situations. We hope this feature will be another important communication tool for health, police and central government agencies’ to share updates to people about critical events happening in their local area. For example, with COVID-19 breakouts in different places around the country, Local Alerts could be used to advise communities about recent outbreaks, travel restrictions or lockdowns areas, and other requirements as situations develop and evolve.”

The QLD Police Comissioner Katarina Carroll spoke of the product today saying “The QPS welcomes Facebook’s expansion of the Local Alerts tool to include state and territory police. We have successfully used social media platforms to enhance our engagement with local communities and this additional capability will help increase our reach for important community safety messaging. We look forward to adding the Local Alerts product to our digital communications toolkit, particularly to issue real-time alerts, warnings and urgent messaging to our community during times of emergency and critical incidents.”

And in WA where the Local Alerts have been used by WA Fire and Emergency Services, Comissioner Darren Klemm says “The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has strategically been using Facebook’s Local Alert tool during incidents to quickly inform communities about imminent danger and how to stay safe. Our Digital Communications Team has found the tool extremely effective in notifying people online about bushfire, cyclone and flood emergencies – in most instances reaching hundreds of thousands of people within a few hours. These were often people that would otherwise have had a delay in knowing the danger they were in. DFES is proud to be leading the way in emergency digital communications in Australia and encourages other eligible agencies to make use of this tool.”

So keep an eye out of for those notifications with a warning emoji, it could and should be something important for your health and safety – especially important given the Covid outbreak we are enduring right now.