Updated Sat, Mar 29, 2014 7:04 am
While the existing emergency alert systems are still in place, a new format is being introduced by Athens County and the city for use for everything from severe weather to boil orders.
The county uses a system called Everbridge. Everbridge is an alert system that can connect with emails, cell phones or home phones, sending out alerts to each until someone is reached, 911 Communications Center director Dan Pfeiffer said.
“We believe everbridge is a lot more flexible,” Pfeiffer said, comparing the system to the county’s other alert system, Nixle.
The city and county both use Nixle, typically for emergency situations, and the city plans to continue using it, at least through the end of the year.
“We have a pretty big established base (on Nixle), and we’re paid through the end of the year,” said city Deputy Service Safety Director Ron Lucas.
After the end of 2014, Lucas said the city is contemplating moving over to the Everbridge system, which would make the city “more consistent” with the county.
“If we have to mass communicate with people quickly, Everbridge can do that whereas Nixle has its hiccups,” Lucas said.
Benefits of the Everbridge system include the ease of use and the number of contacts a single user can have in the system. Pfeiffer said the system has 12 different alerts that can be utilized and alerts can be personalized.
“You can sign up for specific things like public meetings or boil orders or just emergencies and severe weather,” Pfeiffer said.
“There are some designated areas built into the system, too, like cities or townships.”
Emergency alerts can be sent out to an area of the map that is drawn freehand by whoever is issuing the notification as well, Lucas said.
The city does not have a timeline as to when Everbridge will be fully implemented, but the county already has goals to enhance the system.
“If we get another large-scale event, we want to be able to get people registered who have disabilities,” Pfeiffer said.
“That way we can send out messages specifically to them asking what they need and checking on them.”