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  • Alaska

How Alaska Department of Transportation Notified Thousands Instantly in a Crisis With govDelivery

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When Anchorage, Alaska experienced a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, the Alaska Department of Transportation comms team had to work fast to get travelers off the roads. Using a dual-pronged strategy of email and text, powered by govDelivery, they alerted tens of thousands of subscribers to potential damage.

govDelivery has been reliable in our everyday operations, but also in crisis. Our citizens love that they can hear from us via text.
Meadow Bailey, Communications Director


  • 34K Subscribers On average, there are two subscriptions per subscriber.
  • 74% Engagement Rate 74% of DOT recipients open and/or click on bulletins.
  • +99% Deliverability High deliverability ensures the message gets to subscribers.
  • 140 Bulletins The comms team sent targeted messages to segmented subscribers following the earthquake.
Must have Granicus Solutions

Urgent Crisis Calls for Instant, Digital Comms

When Anchorage, Alaska experienced a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities’ (DOT) communications team knew they needed to act quickly. Their communications strategy prioritizes immediate and direct dissemination of information, especially during emergencies.

The team’s primary concern was public safety. Infrastructure on roads needed to be inspected to ensure it was safe for travelers. The team wanted to make sure that citizens got off the roads immediately and were informed when it was safe to return. Meanwhile, Anchorage cell towers were jammed; citizens couldn’t call the DOT for information. The team would need to provide information on all available channels to reach the largest audience.

In response to a previous earthquake in the early 2000s, the team had sent faxes out. “We’d never be able to do that now. Citizens expect to get instant information on the channel they’re most comfortable with, whether that is our website, social media, email, or text,” said Meadow Bailey, Communications Director.


Targeted Messages via Multiple Channels

The communications team opted to use the same tool for emergencies that they use on a daily basis. For over eight years, that tool has been Granicus’ communications software, govDelivery. A cloud-based platform, govDelivery enables the team, a small group spread across the state, to work together virtually.

“For us, govDelivery makes it easy to push messages out and quickly. The text message component is also important because sometimes people aren’t looking at their email. With text, people are alerted, and they can check email or go find more information.”

The team worked in two shifts, sharing safety messages via email and text around the clock. Updates covered which roads and bridges were either blocked off for inspection, damaged and needed repairs, or repaired and back in service. These messages were highly targeted: The DOT segmented contacts by sections of roads they had previously subscribed to and sent updates on that region.


Thousands Reached Instantaneously

Within 15 minutes of the earthquake, the communications team acknowledged the emergency on social media, asking residents to stay tuned for updates as they occurred. Within an hour, the team issued their first press release to all DOT subscribers.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, the DOT was able to communicate information on 50 damaged locations to tens of thousands of citizens — due to upwards of 99% deliverability — through 140 bulletins sent via email and text in the days that followed.

The DOT asked residents to provide feedback on its earthquake response through a short survey after the earthquake. The research found that residents want to hear from government organizations directly, and most appreciate receiving this information via texts.

Over the last year, the DOT has grown its subscriber base by 21%. They have 34,000 subscribers, who are signed up for two subscriptions each on average. Most citizens opt in directly or through the DOT’s website overlay. Messages from the DOT achieve an outstanding 74% average engagement rate.

“I think there is an expectation from citizens that you will always be able to provide information immediately. govDelivery helped us push out accurate information as soon as we had it.”