At their regular meeting on Nov. 6, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors approved the acquisition of a county-wide Emergency Notification System (ENS) that will provide real time emergency notification to residents during times of local emergencies and disasters. Often referred to as "reverse 911", the system will provide rapid telephone notification to specific communities, neighborhoods or to citizens countywide.
The service chosen by Coconino County is "City Watch", which is part of Avtex, Inc. City Watch provides the ability for public safety leaders to create, target and send an alert or non-alert message to literally thousands of destinations simultaneously. It is a full-feature, outbound and inbound notification system and service that enables emergency managers to quickly, accurately and automatically send emergency and informational messages to literally thousands of contacts, via phone.
"The ability to inform our community residents to take protective action during emergencies is critical in saving lives," said Sherrie Collins, Coconino County Emergency Manager. Whether the need is to evacuate a neighborhood or shelter in place, public safety officials need to reach a multitude of people quickly. As seen recently in the wake of the Southern California fires, these systems help evacuate thousands of residents quickly when minutes can make a difference.
"With this powerful tool, we will now be able to notify residents of an impending evacuation for wildland fire, a missing child report, or a hazardous material spill, to name a few," said Collins. "We can target one street, a subdivision or an entire community with a mapping feature that will allow us to geo-locate target groups. With this new system, and our existing emergency alert system (EAS) and weather radio alerts, we will have multiple notification systems to reach citizens through a variety of media forms."
In addition, City Watch will provide internal notification and alerts to emergency responder teams to allow them to quickly deploy when needed. Fire and rescue groups can now be notified via phone, e-mail, PDA, Blackberry or pager. This will help reduce call back time and eliminate telephone trees and other slower forms of notification.
County officials anticipate the system to be fully functional by the spring of 2008. At that time, a community outreach program will be implemented to help educate citizens throughout the County on how the notification system works.
For more information, call Coconino County Emergency Manager Sherrie Collins at (928) 526-2735; toll-free (800) 790-1990.