SALT LAKE COUNTY (ABC4 News) – In the day and age of text messaging and smartphone apps, the ability for local government to communicate with residents has never been easier. But what most residents don’t know is that each city and county uses different methods – most of which require enrollment.
“There are a variety of software providers out there. Some of the names that you’ll hear are CodeRed, AlertSense, Rave, or Everbridge. Those are just different kinds of software that allow a government agency to send alerts to the people within their jurisdiction,” said Joe Dougherty, spokesperson for the Utah Division of Emergency Management.
In Sandy, officials use the Reverse 9-1-1 notification system, which they deployed to inform residents about the water issue last week. But they quickly learned, many residents were left out of that list.
“What we’re learning more about that system over the last couple days is that the only way that works is if you have a landline or if you’ve opted in and signed up your cell phone number,” said Sandy City Deputy Mayor Evelyn Everton.
Everton said the city ended up sending crews door-to-door and they also utilized their e-mail system and social media pages. They are now looking for other ways to improve their communication and perhaps incorporate text messaging in the future.
“We are grateful that we were able to understand our lags in communication because had this been an event where there were deaths, we would’ve had higher stakes,” said Everton. “This was a great learning exercise for us to know how to do this better in the future.”
Even then, it will be up to the resident to take the steps to opt in for those services.
“I think we feel really lucky in Utah that most of the time, bad things are not happening,” said Dougherty. “So we get lulled into this sense of security. But people really need to realize that there are risks out there, there are hazards, and one of the most important things is to be informed.”
He also said the state has a technology called IPAWS, which local governments can ask to use to aid in communication during emergencies.
So, what do you need to do to stay in the loop?
Contact your local city and county government to find out what emergency alert system they use and how you can enroll.
“First line of preparedness for any person in this state is yourself. Individual preparedness is the most important thing,” said Dougherty. “Take that responsibility in your own hands and make sure that you as a resident are ready to get the important information because it could save your life.”
Many cities have Facebook and Twitter accounts you can also follow for more information.
For County 911 systems we have compiled a short list to help direct you to their websites:
- Salt Lake County 911 system: Go to the VECC911 website.
- Weber County: You can sign up for their alerts at Coderedweb.com.
- Tooele County alerts can be found at tcem.org.
- Washington County alerts are found at 911register.com.
- Davis County uses coderedweb.com.
- Utah County can be found at alerts.utahcounty.gov.
Most counties have an emergency response system as well as each city. Signing up for their alerts could help make getting notifications sooner in the event of an emergency.