Newport’s emergency management operators will have a pair of new tools at their disposal beginning later this month.
As part of the City’s ongoing effort to improve its emergency preparedness and response capabilities, the City of Newport will be transitioning to a new emergency notification system designed to significantly enhance the City’s ability to communicate with residents, businesses, and visitors in the event of an emergency.
Beginning in October, the City will be deploying Rave Alert, a state-of-the-art emergency notification system developed by Rave Mobile Safety as a replacement to the existing CodeRed alert system first introduced to Newporters in 2011.
The new Rave Alert system embraces contemporary communications modes in a feature-rich technology platform that tightly integrates alerts through any number of methods in real-time, including Text, Email, Voice, RSS, Social Media, as well as interfaces to Federal Emergency Alert systems and ancillary support systems such as Computer Aided Dispatch and GIS. In addition, the system supports automatic translation to 48 languages so that recipients can be notified in their native language and offers in-depth reporting to analyze community engagement.
“As a seasonal, and even daily, destination for millions of visitors each year, Newport’s population is in constant flux,” explained Fire Chief Brian Dugan. “That can pose a number of challenges from an emergency management standpoint, especially in keeping both residents and visitors informed of developing situations. This new system offers us a tool kit that we haven’t had before and we’re excited to be rolling it out to the community.”
In addition to Rave Alert, which will serve as the City’s general mass notification tool, residents will also be able to sign up for Smart911, a fully customizable and personal emergency management account specifically designed for mobile users.
With Smart911, individuals can link both homes and work addresses to mobile phones, which can be passed on to first responders for more a detailed, rapid response. Additional information such as whether there are any pets in the home, a list of any special needs, and additional emergency contacts can all be included in a Safety Profile. All information is optional, and the citizen has the ability to choose what details they would like to include.
“The benefits of sharing this type of information during an emergency are immeasurable”, explained Chief Dugan. “Mobile phones do not provide an address to the 9-1-1 call taker. These emergency situations are often the worse of a person’s life, and the Safety Profile can speak for you when you might be unable.”
Prior to the Gas Outage experienced in January 2019, the City had begun to review its options for a more comprehensive solution for Emergency and Mass Notifications.
That event offered specific examples of areas where the City lacked the flexibility and capability required to address urgent and comprehensive notifications. Since that time, and with the support of our first responder departments, the City has researched and tested a number of alternate technologies in order to upgrade our Emergency Alert system.
Dugan will be presenting the new system to the City Council at their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. A City-wide test will follow on Tuesday, Sept. 17 in concert with the launch of a pair of new Social Media accounts that will bring an official City presence to Nextdoor and Twitter (@CityofNPT), which has been utilized effectively by the City’s Police Department since November 2012.
Rave Alert is already in place in a large number of institutions nationally, and closer to home, is a vital component of emergency management communications at the Salve Regina University, the University of Rhode Island, CCRI, and the City of Boston.
While the new system will draw upon existing available data, in order to ensure that contact information is as up to date as possible, the City is urging all residents and business owners to sign up directly for the new system by visiting www.CityofNewport.com/Alerts. Users can also download the Smart911 app on their smartphones, by searching for “Smart911” in your mobile app store or by texting “Smart911” to 67283 to receive the download link via text message.