Redwood City — The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors today approved funding for an online planning and management tool that will help residents evacuate areas in danger from wildfire, tsunamis and other disasters.

A three-year contract with Zonehaven will provide access to cutting-edge technology that allows emergency planners and local officials to better understand a community’s risk and help residents plan safe evacuation routes.

This initiative and commitment to new technology is being led by Supervisors Don Horsley and David Canepa with the assistance of local emergency response officials and the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability. Both supervisors committed $294,000 in district-discretionary funds from Measure K, the voter-approved half-cent sales tax. 

“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 Zonehaven platform has been in development since 2019 when Horsley, recognizing a lack of a standardized and comprehensive evacuation planning and management process, spearheaded an effort to develop an innovative solution for countywide use. Since then, emergency response agencies throughout the county spent hundreds of hours developing strategic standardized emergency evacuation zones.

“As we’ve seen in recent years, disasters know no jurisdictional boundaries, therefore planning and response is a team sport. I’m excited that this new platform brings all first responders together to a standardized evacuation system. This kind of collaboration across boundaries is an example of government at its best,” Canepa said. 

The Zonehaven platform is designed to give first responders and the public immediate evacuation information. The new platform allows each agency to make decisions on when to evacuate, which zones to evacuate while monitoring critical evacuation route traffic in real-time. Additionally, the platform is available in real-time for the public to see if their zone is evacuated.

“During a wildfire we need to make quick decisions about evacuations, this new platform is a game-changer. 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,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jonathan Cox of CAL FIRE San Mateo County.

The San Mateo County Office of Sustainability will help with public outreach about Zonehaven and to raise awareness of fire and other climate risks in the county.

The Zonehaven tool is scheduled to launch this summer. To watch a video about the Zonehaven evacuation platform, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3pXJ9NKEfc&feature=youtu.be

Project Contacts:

Supervisor Horsley’s Office: (650) 363-4569

Supervisor Canepa’s Office: (650) 363-4569

Jonathan Cox, CAL FIRE San Mateo County, (650) 861-4084

Effie Milionis Verducci, Office of Sustainability, (650) 363-4120