The city of Danville has launched a new and improved way to share emergency information rapidly with the public. Now, citizens can register their cell phones to receive alerts through a call with a recorded voice message, text message, email or all three.
Before, the city only could reach people with landlines.
“Significant gaps in 9-1-1 communication databases have been created as more people transition from landline to wireless and Voice Over Internet Protocol phone service,” said Steve Dishman, assistant fire chief and director of emergency services. “This new system will help us close those gaps.”
The new rapid notification system is called “Danville Citizen Alert.” To register, go to http://citizenalert.danvilleva.gov/.
Citizens with landlines do not have to register to continue receiving alerts because the city’s Emergency Communications Center already has access to a secured database of landline phone customers.
"We encourage citizens without landlines to go online and sign up their cell phone numbers,” Dishman said. “When they do, they will begin receiving any notification generated by the office of Emergency Management.”
The office will advise the public of hazardous situations that require immediate action, including seeking shelter during weather-related events such as tornadoes; evacuating an area due to fire, flooding, chemical spills and hazardous materials incidents; and boiling water due to drinking water contamination.
“This is only one method of notification,” Dishman cautioned. “For weather-related events, we encourage citizens to listen to weather-alert radios to stay informed of storm watches and warnings, and to monitor news radio and television and the Internet.”
In addition, the system will not replace federal government or National Weather Service alerts.
Dishman points out those registering cell phones will make sure they receive alerts when away from home. “For this reason, if you have a landline, then you still may want to register your cell phone,” Dishman said.
When registering, citizens must provide their name, a Danville street address, at least one phone number, and an email address.
The street address is necessary to provide location-specific notifications, eliminating unwanted calls to areas in the city not affected by the alert. "If there is a hazardous material spill in a certain part of Danville, then we are not going to activate the entire system," Dishman said.
The phone number provided may be from outside the city or even a different area code because the system uses the street address to send the alert.
The email address becomes the user identification and is used to confirm the registration. The information provided will be protected and will not be shared, Dishman said.
Citizens can opt to receive alerts through a call with a recorded voice message, a text message, email or all three. Voice messages typically last no longer than two minutes, Dishman said.
Once the registration form is completed and submitted, a verification email will be sent. A response to the verification email completes the registration process.
Citizens have the option to opt out of the system if they so choose on the website.