In 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston, Texas as a Category 2 hurricane, with Category 5 equivalent storm surge and extended winds of 120 miles from its eye. In the midst of this, Ladder Jumpers, LLC founder, Alvin W. Brown, Jr., found himself disconnected in Austin, Texas and unable to text message with a close family friend to check on him and his family living in Bay City, Texas. Little did Alvin know at the time that this incident wouldspawn a service nine months later known as WeAreSafeAndSound.com, a free emergency & disaster communications service.
Alvin started the service because in general most people don’t understand the importance of having an emergency communications plan until the emergency happens and they’re stranded without a way to communicate.
We Are Safe And Sound is 100% free service available to the general public, and is privately funded by Ladder Jumpers, LLC as well as through an advertising portal that allows B2C emergency and disaster service provider to market their services.
Today, WeAreSafeAndSound.com has 4400+ registrants and is growing and gaining awareness throughout the United States.
How it works
Users register ahead of time and in the event of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Ike, they can post a message on the site, send a message via text, or post to their social media accounts for their friends and family ensuring that people can find each other when they need too.
In addition, members of the site are assigned a username and password, and a voicemail box extension. In the event of a natural disaster, they can call their voicemail box via a toll-free number and leave a “Safe&Sound” message loved ones. Being notified via email or by text, members associated with the account call the same toll-free number and can listen to messages after they provide proper identification.
Alvin was trying to find a way to create a homegrown centralized voice messaging system and heard about Twilio at a SXSW event. After an afternoon with the documentation and examples the first version was up and rolling with centralized voicemail. The site is built with PHP.
Interview with Alvin
I recently had a chance to speak with Alvin at StartupWeekend Austin. In this interview, Alvin talks more about the inspiration for WeAreSafeAndSound.com and his plans for it in the future.