INDEPENDENCE – The city got to test its new Swiftreach system when a girl disappeared for about 90 minutes
Jim Gibbs, the city’s information systems administrator, said, “The system called 3,400 households in 12 minutes.” When the system called the residents back to tell them the girl was found, it reached 3,600 households in eight minutes.
Swiftreach is a reverse 911 system that calls residents and businesses on its list, in the event of an emergency. The system will be use during extreme severe weather, flood notifications, if someone is missing, a catastrophe like terrorism, or in Gibbs’ words, “any bad stuff.”
Police dispatchers and the officer on duty decide when to use the system.
Gibbs said he was happy with how the system operated when the girl was missing. However, he also recognized the message didn’t note immediately that it was a call from the city. Since it’s an automated message, there’s a slight pause before the message starts, and many residents could mistake the emergency message as telemarketer and hang up.
The system can reach all the listed phone numbers in a designated area, but not the unlisted numbers. If residents want to get Swiftreach information but didn’t receive the call when the girl was missing or don’t when the city tests the system between 7-8 p.m. July 30, they should visit the city’s Web site, www.indenpendenceohio.org, or call the Civic Center between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays to add their name to the list.
Gibbs said that, although the city doesn’t want to disturb people, it chose a Sunday to test the system because it could get the most people at home.
The system charges the city a monthly subscription fee of $500 and 3.5 cents per 30 seconds of dialing out, per played message. So, if a resident or answering device doesn’t pick up, the city will not be charged for the call. The fee is paid for by the general fund.
Re-Printed from the The Sun Courier
June 12, 2006
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