Phone calls, e-mails and text messages would be used to alert West Seneca residents about emergency situations or important community news in an Internet-based notification system being considered by town officials.
During Monday afternoon’s Town Board work session, lawmakers and department heads were briefed about the CodeRED Emergency Communications Network by Sean Crotty, a public safety dispatcher and emergency manager for the Town of Hamburg. That town signed up eight months ago for the service, which has been used to relay information about such things as a travel ban during January’s blizzard and the search for a bank robber.
Elma, Lancaster and Depew are among other local municipalities utilizing CodeRED.
Emphasizing that his relationship with the company is strictly as a customer, “I feel very strongly about the system that we fought very long and hard to get,” Crotty said. “We find new uses for it every time we turn around.”
“Their customer service is unmatched,” Crotty added.
Under the system, notifications are sent to residents and businesses who are automatically included because they have listed telephone numbers, as well as those who otherwise enroll. Smartphone users can download an app, for example.
Notifications can be made even when the sender is out of town; Crotty said he sent a notification while he was in New Hampshire. “As long as you have connectivity to the Internet, it goes out,” he said.
Crotty, whose presentation was arranged by John Gullo, West Seneca’s disaster coordinator, noted that alerts could be tailored to reach specific neighborhoods, such as the Lexington Green area that’s been repeatedly flooded this winter by Buffalo Creek.
Pricing for the service is based on minutes used or unlimited. “My advice to you is to go unlimited,” Crotty said.
Crotty wasn’t able to immediately answer questions about how much Hamburg pays for the service, which includes residents of the Villages of Blasdell and Hamburg, nor how often CodeRED updates its contact records.
Though the West Seneca School District uses a different alert system, Crotty said school officials still could receive information through CodeRED and then act accordingly through the district’s system.
“I can’t say enough good about them,” he said.