Jackson County EMA considers new mass notifications systems

Northeast Alabama

JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. – The Jackson County Emergency Management Agency is looking into possibly making a change to its mass notification system.

The department has been using Code Red for its mass notifications for more than 10 years.

“That’s our main weather warning system for the county. It’s linked to the National Weather Service and as soon as they put out a warning, that alert goes out to wherever the polygon is drawn for the warning, so in case we ever have to have an evacuation for some reason or in case we have road closures due to whatever reason that we would like to detour people around that,” explained director Paul Smith.

Now, Smith is looking into other options to make sure their needs are being met.

“On occasion you need to kind of revisit some of the things that you’re spending your money on and make sure that the money you’re spending, you’re getting the most bang for the buck. Make sure that if the one that we currently use is not up to par, if it costs too much money, if we can do better for less, then that’s kind of what we’re looking at,” said Smith.

Smith said Code Red costs about $15,000 a year, which is one-tenth of the EMA’s budget.

He told News 19 they want something that’s user friendly, protects subscriber data. and can lighten their load during emergency situations.

“We’re a two-man office and during weather warnings, we have all four hands full and a lot of our folks get their weather through social media now, so if we have a system that will warn normally through the mass notification and then send those warnings to our social media automatically without us having to physically do that, it helps us out on this end,” said Smith.

One option he is checking out is Civic Ready.

Jackson County already uses it for other county business.

However, he will also be looking into some other North Alabama vendors.

The Jackson County EMA is under a contract with Code Red through June 2021.

Smith said while they may decide to stick with Code Red, if they do make a change, they will want a few months before the June deadline to smoothly make the transition.

He added that the commissioners will make the final decision.

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