Emergency notification system now accepts cell phones, e-mails

DOWNEY - In an effort to enhance its emergency preparation and response capabilities, the city of Downey recently implemented a new link in its communication chain - an emergency notification system that accepts information from residents.Emergency notification systems (also known as reverse 911 systems) are a common way to contact community members before, during or after emergencies. Whether it is a hazardous situation that could be avoided, emergency directions for residents of a specific area or post-emergency information to improve the outcomes of a recovery effort, emergency notifications are important to the community. The city has already obtained more than 30,000 landline numbers for residents and businesses throughout Downey. However, there remains a large information gap for people who rely solely upon cell phones. Approximately 20% of Downey households no longer use traditional landline phones at all. Many Downey residents also depend heavily on text messages and email-enabled cell phones for information and updates. To ensure efficient communication of emergency information, residents and interested persons are encouraged to visit the city's website and register their cell phone, landline and email addresses. An option is available for prioritizing the order in which contact information is used. For instance, a cell phone can be prioritized over a landline if a resident prefers to be contact on a cell phone first. The emergency notification system is a map-based system that ties phone numbers and e-mail addresses to physical addresses in the city. Any persons may sign-up for emergency and non-emergency notifications by listing a Downey address (up to six different addresses) of importance to them. For example, parents may want to receive a notification if their child's school is receiving an emergency notification. Some families may want to know if their relatives homes are in an area receiving a notification. Business owners and employees may live out of Downey but want to know if their workplace is in an area receiving an emergency alert. The sign-up link is currently located on the city website (www.downeyca.org) under the Emergency Preparedness and the Quick Links tabs. Look for the words 'citizen alert' to find the way to the thumbnail. With more than 113,000 residents and thousands of businesses in the city of Downey, a powerful notification system and a comprehensive listing of phone numbers and email addresses is necessary to ensure prompt, accurate dissemination of information, particularly in an emergency. For additional information, please call (562) 904-6107, contact ready@downeyca.org or log onto www.downeyca.org. Mark Sauter is a deputy city manager in charge of emergency preparedness for the city of Downey.

********** Published: July 29, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 15