Mayor Announces Launch of Notify NYC

This pilot program will deliver emergency public information by e-mail, text messages and reverse-911 alerts in four New York City community districts.

by / December 4, 2007

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the launch of Notify NYC, a pilot program to deliver emergency public information by e-mail, text messages and reverse-911 alerts in four city community districts. Any interested individual can sign up for Notify NYC and receive information about significant emergency events in four pilot communities: Lower Manhattan, the Northeast Bronx, the Rockaways and Southwest Staten Island.

The different technologies tested during the pilot will be evaluated to determine whether they could be deployed citywide. The pilots in Lower Manhattan and the Rockaways will test e-mail and text message alerts, and the pilots for the Northeast Bronx and Southwest Staten Island will test e-mail alerts and auto-dialing -- also called reverse-911. Notify NYC began accepting e-mail addresses and telephone numbers today. The launch of this program fulfills a campaign promise and the city will begin sending alerts on Monday, December 10.

"I have always believed that the public deserves the swiftest access to information its government can accurately provide during emergencies," said Bloomberg. "Notify NYC will give New Yorkers in the pilot communities access to information while serving as a proving ground for different technologies that could one day benefit the entire city."

Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler has overseen the development of Notify NYC, which is the result of a collaborative effort between the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT), the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit (CAU) and the City's public safety, health and housing agencies including Police (NYPD), Fire (FDNY), Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), Environmental Protection (DEP), Sanitation (DSNY), Transportation (DOT), Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and Buildings (DOB).

Information about significant emergency events in the four pilot communities will be sent via a differing combination of e-mail, text messages with a maximum length of 120 characters and recorded telephone calls known as reverse-911. Alerts sent through Notify NYC will also be posted on the program's Web site and distributed to call takers at 311 and 911 in an effort to ensure that information that the city provides is accurate, timely and consistent.

The pilot will test two types of messages: "alerts" that will provide time-sensitive information and instructions about an emergency and "notifications" that will serve as informational advisories. For example, a major coastal storm approaching the city could trigger a Notify NYC alert, while a utility outage that does not require any specific action could trigger a notification. Alerts and notifications will be drafted by OEM's Watch Command and sent to registered Notify NYC participants.

Emergency information will be limited to events that directly impact the four communities in the pilot program, but anyone can sign up for the service, regardless of where they live or work. Notify NYC is a voluntary program and information collected to send alerts and notifications will remain confidential. Phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other personal information collected during the registration process will never be used for purposes other than an emergency alert or notification transmitted through this program.

"I am pleased that the many meetings I have convened with Community Board 1, LMDC and OEM to discuss the development of an emergency community notification system have led to the pilot program announced today," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "In the wake of 9/11, the Deutsche Bank fire and the flood at 90 West Street, an effective and reliable notification system is vitally needed to notify the Lower Manhattan community of potential emergencies."

"During an emergency, timely and accurate information is important not only for emergency responders, but also for the public," said OEM Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno. "We're eager to examine new technology that might provide additional methods for communicating with New Yorkers about serious incidents in their communities."