Berkshire County Cities to Adopt State-of-the-Art Emergency Alert Systems
Two cities in Western Massachusetts are nearing completion of Code-Red emergency alert systems. The new technology is an Internet-based system to contact North Adams and Pittsfield residents.
Dick Alcombright is the mayor of North Adams -- a city of about 14,000. He says when the remnants of Hurricane Irene hit last year -- he realized how unequipped some Berkshire County communities were to warn residents about hazardous conditions.
"I was dramatically facebooking folks on my Facebook page along with contacting radio station I-Berkshires to give updates on the storm. We just thought wouldn't it be good to have a real time system that would allow us to give updates as to of for instance road washouts, water breaks dangerous places to stay away from in the event of a natural disaster of some sort."
Alcombright says like many cities in Western Massachusetts, North Adams has been using a reverse 9-1-1 auto-dial system to place city-wide emergency alerts. But he says sometimes that call network took 24-hours to contact the 55-hundred residents signed up for the service.
In addition to reaching residents in one one-hundredth of the time the old system took, more like fifteen minutes -- Alcombright says Code-Red lets officials contact specific quadrants of the city, too.
"There's a way you can actually go into the system. There's a map that we have -- you can actually draw out the section that would be included in the call."
Alcombright says Verizon customers will automatically receive land line alerts -- but he encourages all residents to sign up for calls, texts and email notifications on the city's website. He says North Adams will spend an additional 46-hundred dollars annually on Code-Red. North Adams will test the system tonight at 6 -- and Pittsfield should have Code-Red installed by the end of the month.