EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM - Notify Red Deer is a new emergency contact system, which messages residents by phone, text or email. photo submitted

EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM - Notify Red Deer is a new emergency contact system, which messages residents by phone, text or email. photo submitted

Red Deer alert system kicks off second year

Notify Red Deer notifies residents of snow removal, sweeping and emergencies

The City has rolled out the Notify Red Deer emergency notification system for the second year to streamline how it gets information to residences.

“It allows us to contact people quickly and in a seamless manner by using a number of different methods,” said Julia Harvie-Shemko, director of communications and strategic planning with the City of Red Deer.

Notify Red Deer is designed to quickly contact residences by their chosen means of communication using either email, phone calls or text messages in emergency situations, when their snow zone is being cleared and as of last week when street sweeping is taking place in their zones.

The platform is not unique, but the way that it is being used in the City of Red Deer is unconventional.

“Snow season last year, we used it mainly to let people know when to move their vehicles and we did notice a decrease in the amount of tickets and towing that needed to happen,” Harvie-Shemko said. “We had a really good response to that.”

Express Systems are used across the world, mainly in emergency situations.

A similar system was used during the bombings at the Boston marathon in 2012; they have also been used during floods and other natural disasters in the states and are starting to be seen more in Canada, too.

The platform holds a lot of potential for various applications.

“We’re looking at how we can use it in the future,” said Harvie-Shemko.

In Saskatoon, the system is used to let residents know where construction is taking place.

She added that it could be used to notify people of a change in garbage day schedules or even activity guide dates, but it may also just remain an emergency alert system.

The Notify system means that with the push of a button, the City can simultaneously send out 45,000 electronic messages, either by email or text. Phone calls going out may take a few minutes longer, as they have to be done in smaller batches.

The new method is far more efficient than the antiquated call out system that used to take hours to reach everyone.

“We just needed a better and quicker way to get to people,” Harvie-Shemko said.

She added, the City recognizes the use of cell phones and that many residents don’t have landlines any more. They also want to keep up with technology in light of all the recent violent weather the province has experienced in recent years.

There are currently 9,500 residents currently signed up for Notify Red Deer.

Residents who signed up for Snow Zone plowing alerts last winter received a test alert at 9:05 a.m. Nov. 5th telling them to update their profile information and subscribe to the new emergency alert system.

Any questions about Notify Red Deer can be directed to 403-342-8111.