Town implements emergency alert system

  • Monday, January 14, 2013

With a brief notice about the closure of Main Street for the Christmas parade Sunday, Summerville opened the lines of communication with its residents a little more.
Wednesday’s item was the first to be sent on the town’s new text and e-mail alert system, which uses a platform created by Nixle, a privately-held company based in San Francisco.
Nixle offers the free alert system to law enforcement agencies across the country. It also offers a paid upgrade.
Summerville’s adoption of the system comes after residents of Robynwyn came to Town Council last month to ask the town to offer an emergency alert system.
The speakers said they had more than 1,000 cell phone numbers of people interested in participating.
At the time, town staffers said they’d been looking into an emergency alert system and promised action soon.
Wednesday, the Summerville police department issued a press release saying it was “very excited” for residents to experience the system for themselves.
Already 150 people have signed up, said Capt. Jon Rogers.
Sign-up is easy. People can go to the town’s website at www.summerville.sc.us and click on the link at right.
Once signed up for the service, users can determine whether they want to receive alerts only, alerts and advisories, or alerts, advisories and community news.
The three tiers of information reflect different levels of urgency.
Anyone signing up in the 29483 zip code will automatically begin receiving alerts from the Summerville police, Lincolnville police, Goose Creek police, state Department of Public Safety and statewide Amber alerts, though users can opt out of any of those agencies.
Users also have the option of signing up for alerts from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children or from Blue Alert, a national system to notify the public of at-large criminals suspected of injuring or killing law enforcement personnel.
The police department doesn’t have access to the phone numbers of those who sign up for the service, Rogers said.
The Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office has talked about implementing a similar system but hasn’t yet pursued it, said Maj. John Garrison.
The county’s emergency management department participates in ReachSC, a statewide network that calls landlines and, if the owner opts in, cell phones.
It’s primarily used by the dispatch center, said emergency management director Mario Formisano, with the last alert being for a missing Alzheimer’s patient.
The county has been part of ReachSC since 2007, he said.

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