August 15, 2013 at 8:30 AM
CHATHAM, NJ - The statistics are in and Chatham Borough rates No. 1 when it comes to making use of Morris County's alert system, run through Everbridge Notifications.
As of Aug. 12, 2013, Chatham Borough sent out 50 alerts this year to residents through AlertChathamBorough, nearly twice as many as the second highest, Roxbury, which sent out 27. Chatham Township ranks No. 3 on the chart with 17 alerts. Some of the alerts went out included a tornado warning, a bear sighting, a carjacking, construction and utility work.
"I updated the statistical report that we send out on a monthly basis and the total number of community signups for AlertChahamBorough is 1,047," Steve Williams, deputy coordinator-emergency management officer for the borough, said. "We're probably a third of a way to the total number of households that we can sign up."
There is no extra cost for the number of alerts put out by Chatham. It is a service provided for every town in Morris County. Everbridge is funded through county taxes.
Williams is working on an in-house brochure, which he plans to provide to schools for distribution to parents, detailing the uses for AlertChathamBorough. A small percentage of the 50 alerts went out to everyone signed up for AlertChathamBorough since messages are targeted to certain areas or categories.
Williams pointed out that the alerts sent out go to people who check them off when they sign up, according to the desire for specific alerts. The categories are: Traffic, road closure, severe weather, power outages, water outages, crime alerts, missing persons and miscellaneous alerts.
Tops on the list for notifications through AlertChathamBorough is the severe weather alert, which had 821 signups, followed by power outages (809) and crime alerts (745)
Williams has good news for those looking to receive more accurate weather alerts. The county is switching to a much more powerful system this fall.
"The county has a mass notification system that is much more powerful and we will be migrating to that in the fall," Williams said. "Users have the ability to receive different weather alert notifications that are sent to them directly from the national weather service. This system is much more powerful and I'm looking forward to learning how to use that this fall."
Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris said that the borough is no longer using email or Twitter to alert residents, only AlertChathamBorough.
"We used to use Twitter and email notificaton," Harris said. "The email notification broke and that's why we went to Twitter, and some people didn't like to use Twitter, so we decided its best to go with AlertChathamBorough."
Councilman Jim Lonergan figured from the statitistics cited, that AlertChathamBorough sent out a notification "every 4.2 days." Lonergan was concerned about the possibility of overloading residents with alerts.
"Part of the reason this has been so effective is because of Steve (Williams)," Harris said. "He has been verry good at using the area notificaton capability, so that, for example, if we are doing hydrant flushing, we can send out an alert just to those people who are going to be affected. Using those type of tailored messages is great."
Williams gave an example that road resurfacing was sent out as an alert to three or four streets affected by the work.
Bob Falzarano, borough administrator, announced that Madison is seeking a 10-year FCC license for a public broadcast radio station. Madison is purchasing $30,000 worth of equipment for the station that can be found at 1630 AM.
"Madison has agreed if we have an event, anything we send over they would be able to broadcastr," Falzarano said. "They can store up to 300 pre-recorded messages into their system. They are testing this week and next week to see how far they can go with their broadcasts, but Chatham is definitely within range. It could be up and running in a month."