ROWLEY— The town's new community alert and notification system will soon allow residents to know if they are flushing the hydrants in your area or shutting off your streetlights for two days to do cost analysis.
The aim of the system is to keep residents better informed, and more quickly, of changes that may affect them, especially in emergency and crisis situations.
The alert and notification system, provided by Connect-CTY, will go into effect July 1. It was approved by the Board of Selectmen at Monday's meeting.
To notify residents, the system sends a recorded message to a home phone, cell phone or even e-mail address. The system will be available for use by police, fire, the Board of Health, Highway Department, and Light and Water departments.
"This system will absolutely be a benefit to the entire town and various departments," said Linda Soucy of the Light Department. "We are really looking forward to the opportunity to utilize this technology."
Local towns such as Ipswich, Boxford, Hamilton and Danvers have been using such systems for a while now. The Triton Regional School District uses the system to notify parents of emergencies at school or school closings.
The contract with Connect-CTY is for three years at $6,000 a year; the first year is already paid for via donations from the different departments in town. Training on the system for key personnel is also included in the contract price.
Selectman Robert Snow recently attended a demonstration of the automated call system.
"It was very impressive to see just how quickly the whole town could be contacted," he said. "And the ability to home in on certain neighborhoods or demographics will be of benefit for our uses, such as if there were a hydrant flushing on just one street, or if the Council on Aging wanted to reach just the seniors in town, that can be done too."
Users of the automated call system can quickly target a precise geographic area and saturate it with thousands of calls per hour, providing immediate interaction with recipients and aiding in rapid response to specific needs. Special lists of individuals with common characteristics also can be created.
When the system becomes available, residents will be invited to include their cell phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses in the database by logging onto the town Web site to provide the information.
Residents can also opt out of being included in the automated notification system. Initially, the system will draw from records of home phone numbers.
"We will be careful to monitor the use of the system so that messages don't become too commonplace," said Dave Petersen, selectmen chairman. "We want to ensure that in times of crisis and emergency, residents will be sure to listen to and heed the messages received from the (automated call) system."