(TNS) — Local emergency managers are promoting a new tool in the Blue Springs and Grain Valley area to keep residents up to speed on developing severe weather and similar incidents.
The company called Nixle allows police and fire departments and related agencies to send texts to smartphones and recorded messages to landline phones when trouble is near.
"It's going real well. We'd like to get more people signed up for it," said Les Boatright, assistant emergency management director of the Central Jackson County (CJC) Emergency Management Agency.
That agency covers the same area as the CJC Fire Protection District — Grain Valley, most of Blue Springs, Lake Tapawingo and parts of unincorporated Jackson County.
CJC had been using a system called CodeRED, but this spring it switched to Nixle, the same system used by Grain Valley police and emergency departments in Jackson County and Kansas City.
"Nixle has a lot more functionality than CodeRED, and it's cheaper," Boatright said. About 3,500 people in the CJC service area have signed up so far.
"And the nice thing is it's no cost to the user," he added.
Boatright said CJC is sticking with emergencies — generally weather and fires — and avoiding such things as traffic snarls unless it's something major.
"People have told us they don't want that stuff," he said.
There are a variety of ways to sign up. Go the city of Blue Springs website. Go to nixle.com. Or text your ZIP code to 888777. You'll get a response and the ability to walk through the signup process. You can sign up for alerts from more than one agency.
Most users are getting texts on their smartphones. Those come from the emergency agency itself, such as CJC, not Nixle. Some users only have landlines. They get an automated call. For instance, if a severe thunderstorm warning was posted, the call to your home phone could be the recording of that message from the National Weather Service, like the one on NOAA all-hazards radios.
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