BOWIE – The city announced the release of a new, updated alert system designed to help keep residents safe and informed about traffic accidents, weather and other news. Una Cooper, communications coordinator for the city, said an alert system has been in place since 2006, but Alert Bowie 2.0 has better benefits than the former […]
BOWIE – The city announced the release of a new, updated alert system designed to help keep residents safe and informed about traffic accidents, weather and other news.
Una Cooper, communications coordinator for the city, said an alert system has been in place since 2006, but Alert Bowie 2.0 has better benefits than the former system.
“What this new system gives us is more flexibility in how people get the information,” said Cooper. “Now they can get a phone call on their home phone or on their cell phone. So we’re reaching people who don’t have smart phones or don’t have computers and a lot of those are seniors.”
The system will alert subscribers about incidents in the city ranging from hazmat incidents and traffic jams to tornado warnings and events at Allen Pond.
“I’m a big fan of it and I’m a big fan of Una Cooper—she’s doing an incredible job of putting this together to reach out the community,” said Mayor G. Frederick Robinson. “I think it’s a great service.”
The city is phasing out the old alert system, Cooper said, and residents are advised to set up an Alert Bowie 2.0 account if they wish to continue receiving alerts. There is no cost for receiving alerts, and residents may sign up by visiting the city’s website.
According to Cooper, Alert Bowie 2.0 allows the authorities to pinpoint a neighborhood, street or geographic section of the city and target just the people in that area.
For example, Cooper said the city’s police department alerted residents about an active shooter exercise it staged at Whitehall Elementary School and Samuel Ogle Middle School so residents and parents would become aware and not worry about their children’s safety.
“We used the new Alert Bowie 2.0 to notify the neighborhoods around there that there was going to be something going on, and there was nothing to worry about,” Cooper said. “They may see people—SWAT teams and things like that—and that there might be a traffic impact. On the day of the exercise I actually went out and talked to some of the neighbors because they were standing around watching the excitement and they had gotten the phone calls or the texts or e-mails and they were very happy.”
Cooper said the city implemented the new alert system in July, and it is part of a region-wide initiative.
“All of the governments that are part of the National Capital region and members of the councils received this new installation as part of a homeland security grant,” Cooper said, “so the city’s not actually paying a dime for the service.”
Residents signed p for Alert Bowie 2.0 will receive alerts via text message, e-mail or a phone call. Residents can also download a mobile app to their smartphone.
“The advantage to that is they pay for text messages,” Cooper said. “If they download the mobile app, they’re not paying. I think for us, the voice capability—being able to call to a cell phone or a home phone—is where I see the biggest enhancement.”
Automated weather alerts are also a part of the Alert Bowie 2.0 package so residents will know when there is a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning.
“There’s no delay there now,” said Cooper. “As soon as the weather service issues the alerts, it’s going out. The one thing that I would like to stress in that is that those are going to go to all their devices, it’s going to go 24 hours a day.”