ASHEVILLE, NC – Getting the word out about emergencies and events like water repairs takes every tool in the toolbox. To help reach as many residents as possible, the City of Asheville employs a CodeRED message alert system that can send needed information directly to registered telephones.
The system, employed by the City of Asheville since 2007 and operated by the Florida-based CodeRED Emergency Communications Network Inc., uses a unique mapping system that allows municipalities to select the areas that receive alerts. Depending on the scope of the alert, explains Asheville Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Kelley Webb, officials can trigger phone calls or text messages to the entire Asheville area or focus on a small group of residents.
The system can generate 1,000 calls in a minute and reach the entire Asheville area in 20 to 30 minutes. Webb explains that, depending on the alert, she will key in a user name and password, instruct the system on the area she wants it to cover, then records a voice message to be launched. The CodeRED system will even call back numbers that are unanswered on the first call.
“CodeRed is a great emergency notification system that allows the City of Asheville to communicate quickly to a large geographical area that potentially could be or has been affected by an emergency,” says Asheville Fire Chief Scott Burnette.
In the City of Asheville, the CodeRED system is used primarily by the Asheville Fire and the Water Services departments, but is also tapped by other departments like Asheville Police and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts. So far in 2010, alerts have gone out about flood advisories, water interruptions and line repairs, and AFD training burns. The system was used to notify surrounding neighbors about the UNC Asheville emergency training drill that was conducted in May.
“We use it fairly often,” Webb says. “During the snow storms over the winter, we were able to notify people who to call in an emergency, who to call in a non-emergency and where the local shelters were.”
The Asheville Fire Department also posts alerts via Twitter at @AshevilleFD.
In the nearly three years since CodeRED was launched in Asheville, 37,000 people have signed up to receive messages. Registration is free and users have the choice of receiving messages via cell phone, land line, text messages or TDD/TTY devices for the hearing and speaking impaired. Registration is free and can be completed online.
For more information or to register your phone number with the City of Asheville’s CodeRED alert system, go to www.ashevillenc.gov.