Clackamas County rolls out a new emergency alert system
From fires and police activity to boil orders and other emergencies, Clackamas County now has a new system in place for distributing public alerts and important information to residents and businesses throughout the area.
The new system, called #ClackCo Public Alerts, went into effect in September and is already having an impact in Lake Oswego, where it replaces the CodeRED emergency notification system that had been in place for years. City officials say anyone served by the Lake Oswego Fire Department must now enroll in the new system at www.clackamas.us/publicalerts.
But that's a good thing, according to Sue Scobert, the communications manager for the Lake Oswego Communications Center (LOCOM), which dispatches police and fire for its own first responders and those in West Linn and Milwaukie.
"When (Clackamas County Disaster Management) called and showed us the demo, one of the things that struck my predecessor was the ease of use," Scobert said. "Lake Oswego and Milwaukie used the same system, but West Linn was on the system used by Clackamas County, so our staff had a skill set for two systems, neither of which were quite as easy to use as this new system. So that was one reason we decided to switch, to give us a consistent system for all our users."
According to Scobert, the ease of use on both the back end — for her staff — as well as for citizens signing up to receive alerts makes the system much better than it was before. By registering online for free, Clackamas County residents can opt in to receive notifications via landlines or cellphones, by email or text, and with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and TTY/TDD devices for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Through Wednesday, Scobert said, more than 16,300 people had signed up,
On the back end, the new system from Everbridge allows dispatchers at LOCOM to draw an outline around specific geographic coordinates to pinpoint those who should receive an alert. It allows LOCOM to be much more thorough in getting information out to those who absolutely need it and leaving out those who don't.
Another plus, Scobert said, is that the new system is being purchased and integrated in cooperation with Clackamas County, meaning Lake Oswego will share the cost of the new system with the county and other communities that benefit from it.
"Fiscal decisions play a role, so the fact it was easier to use and that we're sharing that cost model across the county was also a part of that decision," Scobert said.
According to Scobert, LOCOM could not ship any of the data from its old notification system to the new system, so they're asking all citizens — in Lake Oswego, West Linn and Milwaukie — to sign up again for public alerts. The process is extremely straightforward, officials say, and takes about five minutes to complete.
The county will not use any registered #ClackCo Public Alerts contact information for anything other than emergency notifications, officials say. For more information, go to www.clackamas.us/publicalerts.