Portage County is replacing the CodeRED mass notification system with a new and updated platform called Community Alert, which will better facilitate communication and emergency preparedness. A community-wide test call was held on Feb. 20.
Portage County implemented Community Alert so County and municipal officials can stay connected to residents and efficiently provide them with direction in case of emergencies, such as tornado warnings, hazardous materials spill evacuation orders, and other life threatening events.
Using Portage County Community Alert, officials can record and send personalized voice messages to home phones, businesses, local agencies and mobile phones in just minutes. The service also sends email, text messages (SMS) to mobile phones and posts on Facebook, as well as TTY/TDD devices for people who are hearing impaired.
“Keeping our community safe and informed is our top priority, which is why we need to be able to communicate with residents quickly in an urgent situation,” said Portage County Sheriff Mike Lukas. “Portage County Community Alert enables us to communicate efficiently with residents in just a matter of minutes, helping save valuable time, use resources efficiently, and protect our community.”
Portage County officials can target each message to an unlimited number of groups. Authorized users can also use the system’s geo-mapping and group subscription features to contact residents based on specific geographical locations and interests, helping ensure recipients receive relevant, targeted information.
“With Portage County Community Alert, we know our residents are receiving the information that matters most to them, whether it’s an urgent situation or routine community update,” said Denise Schultz, Communications Manager for the Sheriff’s Office. “I strongly encourage residents to register their contact information and update their message preferences into the system’s secure database so they are prepared to receive important notifications.”
Publicly available primary residential and business phones in Portage County will automatically be included in the system. However, to ensure the County has the most up-to-date contact information, including cell phone numbers and email addresses, residents should visit the County website and click on the link that says “Portage County Community Alert,” and provide their complete contact information. Users should also manage their message preferences by indicating their preferred mode of contact, language, and message topics.
In addition to emergency notifications, some organizations such as school districts and certain employers, will be using the system to send mass notifications as well. Plans exist to expand this capability to other groups in the near future. Subscribers can also sign up for local non-emergency community notifications.
Those people who signed up additional cell phones and email addresses in CodeRED will have to re-enter that information into the new system. The County says it has taken steps to ensure that this vendor lives up to their obligation to make that information available in the future.
Portage County Community Alert and Blackboard Connect Inc. do not sell, lease, share, or rent personally identifiable information (names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) to any companies or persons outside of Blackboard or its service providers.