San Mateo County Alert System and the ‘YouTube Active Shooter’

South San Francisco, CA   April 5, 2018 

A South San Francisco resident messaged us questioning why a San Mateo County Alert was not sent out when an active shooter had been identified at YouTube. Other neighbors shared a mixed response; some had received and alert while others had not.  Here is part of that discussion:

“Can you explain why the San Mateo County Emergency alert system was not activated for the YouTube Shooting? They do it ALL the time for a coyote spotting. Isn’t the reason we are suppose to sign up for emergency alert, so that incidents like this can alert people to stay away from an area”
San Mateo County Alert System Administrator Jeff Norris responses:

‘People receive alerts based on the information they provide and alert types they request.  If someone selects wildlife alerts they receive them regardless of where they happen in the county.  If an individual only gives us an address they will only receive alerts when that address is within the broadcast area drawn on the map for that alert.

Alerts originate from the agency having jurisdictional authority.  Based on the information they had available at the onset of the situation San Bruno Police elected not to send a potentially inaccurate alert.  This was a very prudent decision since the initial information was fragmented and only after initial investigation was good information available.  Very rapidly there was so much media attention on the situation that a later alert would not have reached as many people as were seeing the situation on broadcast TV and radio.

The SMC Alert continues to be the best system for emergency notifications in the region and is the only official alert and warning system used by San Mateo County agencies.’


If you have not signed up for the San Mateo County alerts you can do so now CLICK HERE
From the website:

SMC ALERT is an alert notification system used to immediately contact you during urgent or emergency situations. You can set alerts to send emergency and non-emergency text and voice messages to your:

  • email accounts
  • cell phones, smartphones, tablets
  • voice messages to landline phones (home & work)

SMC ALERT is free. (Your carrier may charge you a fee to receive alerts on your wireless device). SMC ALERT is available in all cities and towns in San Mateo County. Please read the FAQ’s for more information.

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