JEFFERSONVILLE — Instead of listening for sirens out on the street or turning on the TV to wait for the latest update, Jeffersonville residents can sign up for a free system that will alert them of emergencies in real time.
CodeRED emergency communications network sends text messages, automated phone calls, Facebook messages or email of weather or safety-related information, said Amir Mousavi, Jeffersonville safety director.
"It's a huge system and it's going to have a bit of a learning curve for us to learn all the parts of it," he said.
All publicly listed phone numbers, such as residential or business numbers, are already in the system and totals about 16,000.
Those with non-public numbers or mobile numbers must register online to receive alerts.
The city council approved a two-year contract with CodeRED for $15,000 each year after a few weeks of discussions.
A four-year contract came before the council first, but some members didn't want to invest in a technology that may be outdated in that amount of time.
The system allows Jeffersonville officials to send out safety alerts to as many or as few people, depending on the situation.
For example, if there is a hostage situation on a neighborhood road, CodeRED can send out alerts to people only on that block so that they know to stay in their homes.
"Think about how much of a risk we're controlling there," Mousavi said.
While users can't opt out of receiving emergency or safety alerts, they do have the option of choosing what kind of weather alerts they would like to receive.
Another feature that CodeRED offers is Integrated Public Alert Warning System, or IPAWS, that sends high-level threats through the federal government.
Jeffersonville would have to fill out some additional paperwork to be a part of that system, which wouldn't be an optional function to users.
Users can also download a free mobile application that will send updates specific to whatever region that user is in. So if someone with the app is in Florida during a hurricane warning, they will receive those alerts.
CodeRED offers some flexibility in how cities will use the system. Users can have text messages translated to different languages, and phone alerts can either be computerized or recorded voice messages. Mousavi said the city plans on having a set of pre-packaged alerts that would be ready to send.
"People prefer to hear a human being's voice," he said.
Mousavi said that one of the biggest factors for contracting with CodeRED was familiarity.
Louisville and Clarksville use the emergency alert system and Charlestown will soon implement it, as well.
"So that part of the marketing is really important because if people don't know it or haven't heard of it, they won't want to use it," he said.
Mousavi also said he hopes to make CodeRED a county-wide program and is talking to the 911 Call Center in Clark County.
His goal is to have as many people in Jeffersonville sign up as possible.
"This is about your safety and we want you to be safe," he said.