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Case study: State of California

The State of California rapidly got thousands of residents prepared for disasters.


The State of California needed to rapidly train residents. The challenge? Reaching them.

In August of 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the launch of Listos (Spanish for “Ready”) California, a campaign from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to help build resiliency in vulnerable communities at high risk for wildfires and other disasters.

In 2019 alone, Accuweather estimates the State of California lost up to $80 billion in economic activity as wildfires caused widespread property and job loss, and low-income, non-English-speaking communities were often hit the hardest.

"Our texting program ... [is] particularly helpful to Californians who have limited access to broadband internet, including so many of the vulnerable communities that the Listos California campaign is working to reach."


The perfect solution

Unfortunately, in-person events were not scalable and not an option due to COVID-19. At the same time, many vulnerable communities had limited access to the internet or laptops, while residents across the board were also often too busy for a video course.

That’s when Karen Baker and Justin Knighten, co-chairs of the Listos California campaign, found Arist. They immediately recognized that text message courses were a perfect fit for reaching thousands of California citizens in an easy, flexible, and frictionless way. The best part? Text message courses could be instantly deployed in over a dozen languages, and learners just had to text a code or click a link to sign-up.

"Having this extremely accessible source of information can help us ensure equity in preparing Californians for disasters and potentially save lives."


A near-instant launch

Within just a few days, the State of California was able to create and launch a disaster preparedness course in nearly a dozen languages. In just a text a day, learners were walked through — step by step — how to sign up for alerts, pack a go bag, and more.

Since all training was delivered via SMS and WhatsApp, the course truly met learners were they were, setting a new bar for accessibility.

"Making disaster preparedness accessible to everyone is at the heart of the Listos California campaign, and now critical information that is accessible and in language  ... [is] available from the power of your personal cell phone."


Long-lasting impact

To-date, nearly 15,000 Californians have taken the Listos California text message course, and the campaign is expected to reach 100,000 learners total in a matter of months.

The course has a 85% completion rate, a 92% satisfaction rate, and learners regularly share the course with their friends and family. In fact, 93% of learners who completed the course felt more prepared.

In the words of a learner: "I am glad that I started reading about getting ready. I wouldn't have known what to put together. Thank you."

Curious to try it for yourself? Try the course for yourself by texting LISTOSCA to 72345.

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