Who’s texting me? Kent to start new emergency-notification system this fall


  • BY Wire Service
  • Tuesday, August 11, 2009 10:34am
  • News

The City of Kent expects to start an emergency-notification system to residents by October.

City officials will be able to deliver emergency, pre-recorded telephone, cell phone, e-mail or text messages to targeted areas or to the entire city. The system can send messages at a rate of 60,000 per hour.

“It will be especially useful should we have flooding this winter,” said Dominic Marzano, city emergency manager, in a city media release.

City officials want to be ready in case the Green River floods this winter due to lower floodwater-storage capacity behind the Howard Hanson Dam on the river. A sinkhole on the right abutment of the dam caused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to warn that the cities of Kent, Auburn, Renton and Tukwila could see flooding this winter.

The city has contracted with Emergency Communications Network, Inc., for its CodeRed emergency-notification services.

The system will enable the city to alert resident to such events as hazardous-material spills, illness outbreaks or a missing person.

All messages will begin with “This is an emergency CodeRed message from the City of Kent.” If a phone is not answered, the system will try again, up to three times, leaving a message on the final attempt.

Marzano said the system is capable of sending messages in a text format to hearing-impaired individuals using TTY/TDD equipment. “It also allows the ability to record more than one message to accommodate multiple languages,” he said.

Marzano cautioned that the system is only as good as the database supporting it.

“The database the city will use contains the numbers of most landlines in the community, but does not include unlisted work or cell numbers or e-mail addresses,” Marzano stated in the release. “If your information is not in the database, you will not be contacted.”

Once the system is operational, residents and businesses will be directed to an online database to ensure their contact information is current and included.

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