City Launches Tool to Improve Public Communication
The City of Winchester is excited to announce that it will be utilizing a new notification system called DeltAlert for both emergency notices and community outreach efforts as of July 9, 2012. Similar systems are currently used in area schools and DeltAlert is an easy-to-use, affordable option for the City of Winchester local government. And due to its affordability, the City was able to purchase the DeltAlert system in the current budget cycle and begin offering this important benefit to local residents and businesses without delay.
DeltAlert will allow the City to send messages to the public in a variety of ways and very quickly. Depending on the utility infrastructure capabilities in the city, DeltAlert can send up to 400 messages per minute. To get started, individuals will have the opportunity to add or change numbers and other contact preferences online to ensure adequate message delivery. Another benefit of DeltAlert is the capability to send messages to target audiences. For example, by using the preferences set by subscribers and groupings entered by City personnel, messages can be delivered to individuals in certain geographic areas or only to downtown businesses if necessary. The system is very versatile and will be a valuable addition to the Cityâ€™s communication efforts.
DeltAlert can deliver messages in a variety of formats, including: landline or cellular (wireless) phones, TDD/TTY devices, SMS, and e-mail and allows individuals to specify which contact mode they prefer. When delivery of the alert to this primary contact mode fails, the system will automatically fall back to other methods. With respect to phone notifications, if the system detects an answering machine, it will deliver the message to voicemail. If the phone is not answered and no answering machine is detected, the system will redial the number at a later time or fall back to another contact mode.
Having a system such as DeltAlert would have been very beneficial to both the Cityâ€™s communication efforts and local residents and businesses during the unusual October snow storm that left thousands without electricity and during the United Bank robbery last winter. Since DeltAlert can send messages to wireless phone numbers, the City could have utilized DeltAlert to send Winchester residents updates from the power companies concerning their progress with restoring power (if a wireless number was provided). Likewise, while the armed bank robbery suspect was on the run, the City could have sent a DeltAlert message to residents and businesses located immediately surrounding the scene of the crime notifying them of the danger.
The City also plans to utilize the system for community outreach and to send important information to the public that does not involve an emergency. For example, the City can send reminders about public hearings, open houses, Council meetings and other items public input events. Other messages about upcoming events, street closures, cancellations and programs may be sent in an effort to keep the public informed. DeltAlert would have been very useful prior to the 2011 Christmas parade to notify residents on and around the parade route concerning street closures.
DeltAlert is expected to greatly enhance the Cityâ€™s current communication efforts by allowing information to be disseminated to the community as needed both quickly and accurately.
Immediate actions needed by residents and
1. Click on the DeltAlert icon on the Cityâ€™s website home page (www.WinchesterVA.gov)
2. Review existing contact preferences or enter information if not in the system
3. Correct any incorrect information
4. Add additional numbers or email addresses to ensure prompt receipt of future messages
For individuals without internet access: Call (540) 545-4739 and a City of Winchester representative will be happy to assist you with the above changes.
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