San Mateo County to launch online disaster evacuation tool this summer

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This summer, San Mateo County is set to install an online tool that provides both first responders and the public immediate evacuation information in the case of a wildfire, tsunami or other disaster.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors this week approved a three-year, $294,000 contract with Zonehaven to implement the new platform that allows agencies countywide to decide when and where to evacuate and to monitor evacuation route traffic in real time. It is also available in real time for the public to see if their zone is evacuated.

Last year, Supervisors Don Horsley spearheaded the effort to put the technology in place after observing a lack of “standardized and comprehensive evacuation planning and management process,” officials said. Since then, emergency response agencies throughout the county have spent hundreds of hours developing standardized emergency evacuation zones.

“This new evacuation platform ensures all of our emergency responders throughout the county have the ability to quickly and efficiently call for evacuations.” Horsley said. “This is particularly crucial for our Coastside residents, who have limited access points along Highway 1.”

The new platform is a “game-changer” in the ability to make quick decisions during a wildfire, said Deputy Fire Chief Jonathan Cox of CAL FIRE San Mateo County (pictured).

“It will empower us to get evacuation orders to the public quicker, and more importantly it will provide live evacuation information to the public we serve,” Cox said.