September 15, 2023
New Emergency Alert Provider for Residents
By Gregory T. Federspiel
The Town is switching vendors for the provision of emergency notifications to residents. All households should have received a postcard in the mail recently announcing the change and providing instructions regarding how to register your preferred phone number(s) for receiving emergency alerts. Residents are encouraged to take advantage of this service and to register as many phones as you wish. There is no charge to register, and all information is secure.
Smart911, a service from Rave Mobile Safety, based in Framingham, Mass. is the emergency alert platform our regional dispatch center is implementing. The platform is quite robust and offers a suite of enhanced features that our previous vendor did not provide. Residents can choose which features they want to utilize, including an optional app that can be added to your smart phone. Once fully deployed later this year through the regional dispatch center the Town will not be paying for this service, adding to the savings we are realizing through our new partnership with the North Shore Regional 911 Center.
Phone numbers that residents specifically provided the former vendor have been transferred over to the new vendor. However, given the menu of optional features from which residents can choose and the number of years (over 10) that it has been since the start of an emergency notification service in town along with the continued switch from land lines to cellular services, all residents are requested to register anew to ensure the most up-to-date information. A household can register as many phone numbers as they like and can create emergency information profiles for themselves and family members, again, as you choose. To register, visit bit.ly/MBTSsmart911 Anyone needing assistance registering can fill out a form on the Town’s website or by visiting https://www.manchester.ma.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=323 and a staff member will be in touch.
Emergency notifications or “reverse 911” calls are an important tool in letting people know of a critical emergency situation. We have used these to let people know of severe weather, utility disruptions (specific neighborhoods can be alerted), and emergency closings. While we hope never to have to provide such alerts, they can literally be life savers in extreme situations.
Maintaining Civility: On another topic, a discrepancy was recently realized between the instructions for the placement of resident stickers on vehicles and what the directive says in a Town Bylaw. The old bylaw, which governs, states that the stickers should be placed on the driver’s side rear window. At the request of the Police and Beach staff, it was recommended that a better placement would be the front windshield on the driver’s side due in part by the rise in the use of deeply tinted side windows through which a sticker could not be seen. Until the bylaw is changed, no tickets can be given for not complying with the instructions and any tickets given in the past for improper placement will be nullified and any fines paid refunded.
This situation is readily cleared up and the inconsistency will be corrected. It really is as simple as that. However, as is all too common on social media, the situation seemed to take on an outsized life of its own. We enjoy a great deal of freedom to say whatever we want to in this country. I respect this freedom as it can lead to productive, robust community dialogue and better outcomes. But I also have a deep appreciation for how words matter and how misleading statements or incorrect inferences can be hurtful, especially to those striving to do good work for the public. Sometimes mistakes happen. We correct them and move forward. My hope is that we always remember to be considerate of one another as we work through whatever issue is at hand.