New York City Launches Emergency E-Alert Pilot

 
 
By Sean Gallagher  |  Posted 2007-12-04
 
 
 
NEW YORK—Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a pilot program to provide emergency information to citizens via e-mail, text messages and phone alerts today.

The initiative, called Notify NYC, "will give New Yorkers in the pilot communities' access to information while serving as a proving ground for different technologies that could one day benefit the entire City," Bloomberg said.

Anyone can register to receive the service through the Notify NYC Web site, beginning Dec. 4. The service, provided by Send Word Now, will launch Dec. 10.

Send Word Now, based in New York, provides alert services to a number of corporate and public customers, including the Port of Seattle, which currently has 750 users, the University of Delaware, at 60,000 users, and NYU and Boston University, at 40,000 users each, according to a company spokesperson. The Notify NYC system, however, has the potential to be the largest project the company has undertaken to date.

Click here to read more about how VOIP will be used for emergency alert systems.

The service will test two types of messaging systems to reach citizens. In half of the trial, the city will start sending alerts in send SMS (Short Message Service) and e-mail messages, capped at 120 characters in length, with emergency information for Lower Manhattan and the Rockaways.

At the same time, the city will distribute information for southwest Staten Island and the northeast Bronx by e-mail and recorded broadcast telephone calls, called "reverse-911", to users who register for the service.

The city's Office of Emergency Management will be responsible for generating the messages. All the messages will also be posted on the service's Web site and distributed to dispatchers for the city's 311 and 911 services to aid them in answering inbound callers.

"We're eager to examine new technology that might provide additional methods for communicating with New Yorkers about serious incidents in their communities." said OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno.

"An emergency notification program of this magnitude has never been tried before," said Council Member Peter Vallone Jr., chairman of the Public Safety Committee. "If successful, this service will provide vital information to New Yorkers, and an informed public is a safer public."

Check out eWEEK.com's Messaging & Collaboration Center for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.

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