Warren County is located in northwestern New Jersey and encompasses 22 municipalities consisting of townships, cities, towns, boroughs and villages in a 363 square mile area. The Rapid Notify system enables the Warren County Office of Emergency Management to contact over 110,000 area residents in the event of an extreme emergency situation.
Warren County teamed up with the local Merrill Creek Dam to purchase the system with funding in part provided by Federal Homeland Security grants.
The County primarily uses the Rapid Notify system in situations such as heavy snowstorms and flooding. The system proved to be valuable in 2011 with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
Through the newly-integrated online self-registration portal, Warren County residents can now sign up to receive emergency alert notifications on their cell phone as well as unlisted landline number. Self-registrant addresses are periodically geo-coded into the Rapid Notify mapping system, enabling more precise alert targeting based on proximity to an emergency situation.
“I am very happy with the Rapid Notify system,” said Bill Hunt, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator for Warren County Office of Emergency Management. “You push the button and it’s done. The speed of the system is amazing.”
In an emergency situation, the OEM coordinator for each municipality is directed to specify the message content and the area to be alerted and forward the information to the county office, which is then sent out on their behalf.
Now the County is encouraging its municipalities to establish sub-accounts to enable communications on a more relevant local level. Allamuchy Township has just signed on and will soon have the ability to load its own contact lists and messages.
The County holds the master account, giving “parent” oversight control of all contact lists and alert messages, while giving municipal sub-accounts “child” level control over their own individual contact lists. The “child” sub-account contacts can be alerted separately by local officials or all together by the master county account. This helps to unify all communication channels into a single system to simplify activation, ensure message consistency and reduce alerting time.
Hunterdon County is located on the western edge of New Jersey and encompasses 26 municipalities consisting of townships, cities, towns and boroughs in a 430 square mile area. The Rapid Notify system enables Hunterdon County public safety agencies to contact over 130,000 area residents in the event of an extreme emergency situation.
Hunterdon County uses the Rapid Notify system to make an average of 250,000 calls annually for such diverse situations as police activity, severe weather alerts, and merchant fraud activity. On one occasion an urgent alert was issued regarding contaminated water, warning residents in a specific geographic area that their tap water was unsafe to drink.
Through the newly-integrated online self-registration portal, Hunterdon County residents can now sign up to receive emergency alert notifications via landline or cellular telephone, SMS text message, or e-mail. In the first week alone, over 130 residents signed up for notifications through the county website portal.
“Rapid Notify allows us to concentrate on the emergency rather than the notification,” said George Wagner, director for public safety for Hunterdon County. “That is a home run for us.”