TESTING THE U.S. EMBASSY’S EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION SYSTEM

The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi will be testing one aspect of our ability to communicate critical information to – and receive information from – Americans during emergencies in the coming days.  Because the test will include telephone calls to American citizens enrolled in Kenya, we are writing to explain what we are doing and why and to request your cooperation with the test.

Overview of What We Are Doing and Why

We are constantly looking for ways to improve our service to American citizens, as well as our response to future emergencies.  One lesson we have learned from catastrophic events around the world – from extreme weather and earthquakes to security incidents and civil unrest – is that timely and actionable information is a critical component of an effective response, both for the U.S. Embassy and for American citizens residing in the country.

We have also seen, however, that communication networks can become severely stressed during a large scale emergency.  While we rely primarily on email and SMS to communicate emergency and security information, the time may come when those systems break down during a crisis and we will need to rely on telephone calls to transmit critical information to the American citizen community.

To better assure the smooth operation of our communication system during an emergency, the U.S. Embassy will conduct a test of our ability to transmit information to enrolled American citizens by telephone.

How the Test Will Be Performed

The test will include telephone calls from the U.S. Embassy to private citizens, known as Wardens, who have volunteered to help communicate with enrolled Americans during a crisis.  Starting on Wednesday, December 10, the U.S. Embassy will activate its “phone tree” notification system by calling the Wardens to notify them that the test has begun and to ask them to call each enrolled American who has been assigned to their zone.

Between Wednesday, December 10, and Tuesday, December 16, the Wardens will attempt to contact the enrolled American citizens in their zones to test (i) whether they were able to get through and speak to the enrolled American, (ii) how many times they had to call to get through, and (iii) any problems getting through or any other issues identified during the test.

When the test has been concluded, the U.S. Embassy will send another message to enrolled Americans to inform you that the test has concluded and to ask you to send an email to enrolledinkenya@state.gov if (i) you did not receive a call from a Warden or (ii) you identified any issues or concerns during the test.  We will then assess the results of the test to identify any ways that we can improve our communication system.

A Final Word

We greatly appreciate your assistance with this important test.  Please note, though, that if you do not receive a telephone call, it does not mean you will not be contacted in an emergency; emails and SMS text messages will still be our primary forms of communication with enrolled U.S. citizens, and there may be a number of reasons why a phone call did not go through during this test.  Please do let us know, however, if you do not receive a call from your warden during the test period; our email at the end of the testing period will include instructions on how to give us feedback.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Kenya enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. 

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, including the Travel Warning for Kenya, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Kenya.  For additional information, refer to “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is located on United Nations Avenue Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya , tel. +254-20-363-6000. You can contact the Consular Section of the Embassy by phone at +254(0)20-363-6451 or via email at Kenya_ACS@state.gov.  For after-hours emergencies, please call +254-(0) 20-363-6170.

Providing Assistance to U.S. Citizens is our Top Priority!