The fundamental advantage of instant messaging is not so much the ability to communicate instantly, but knowing with whom you can communicate instantly. Consequently, the whole concept of \u201cpresence,\u201d and the ability to instant message with others you know are available, is ideally suited to managing an emergency situation, whether it\u2019s a local brush fire or a terrorist attack.Recently, Roam Secure and WiredRed partnered to expand their offerings to emergency managers, a market that both companies have aggressively pursued.Roam Secure offers emergency-oriented communications systems that are marketed to government agencies and others that focus on emergency management activities. The company\u2019s customers include the District of Columbia Emergency Management Agency and Arlington County, Va.; both agencies have had recent experience managing large-scale incidents in their jurisdictions.WiredRed offers enterprise-level instant messaging, and many of its clients are government agencies that use it for communications in emergency situations. WiredRed provides several communications tools, including e\/pop Alert, a one-way\u00a0instant messaging system designed for broadcasting emergency alerts and other information.The partnership of the two companies will result in the integration of e\/pop Alert with the Roam Secure Alert Network, an emergency alert system designed for use with different types of handheld devices, including RIM Blackberries, mobile phones and PDAs, as well as with traditional e-mail.The advantage of such an alert system is twofold. First, it allows emergency managers to provide information more quickly and to a much broader audience than would be possible using other communications technologies. Second, it has the potential for providing better information from these managers to those who need it most, since the chain of communications between emergency managers and those who need information can be considerably shortened. Imagine, for example, if firefighters, police, and even office workers had had access to such a system when the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists. The result might have been an improved ability to transmit information to all parties concerned, and to reduce the use of less reliable means of providing important information and updates.While such an offering will definitely appeal to government emergency managers, there are a variety of applications in the private sector, as well, such as emergency notifications for office workers in large buildings and the like.