By Alyssa Schnugg
When heavy rains last month caused water main breaks in Oxford, city officials used social media and its website to try to inform residents about a precautionary boil water notice along with road closures due to flooding.
“However, we realized not everyone uses social media,” said Mayor Robyn Tannehill Tuesday. “There are older residents in our community who might not even have a computer.”
To help better inform all residents of emergencies, road closings and community events, the Oxford Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to implement a new notification system, Nixle 360, that will send text alerts to cell phones, email and recorded messages to landline phones.
“This will allow for emergency management notifications to go out along with community notifications, police notifications like if someone is missing, and internal messages we may need to go out,” said Chris Simmons, IT director.
Residents can sign up online to receive different levels of notifications – emergency, non-emergency and community messages.
The non-emergency alerts can include things like holiday trash collection changes, road closures, upcoming events like Double Decker and school closings.
“There are keywords that citizens can choose to opt-in for those particular types of notification,” Simmons said.
The program also allows citizens to send tips to local police.
“If there is, say a missing child, and you see that child, you can send out a tip to police,” he said.
Emergency alerts include severe weather and can be sent to specific neighborhoods, for example, if there is a gas leak in the neighborhood.
The cost to participate is $6,500 a year with a one-time setup fee for $500.
Once set up, information on how to sign up for Nixle notifications will be published by local media, on social media platforms and listed on the city’s website.