Quechee Orders The CodeRED Service

February 14, 2013

in News,Quechee

By Eric Francis, Standard Correspondent
QUECHEE — Quechee’s year-round residents and its population of second-home owners can now simultaneously get high-speed messages from Hartford’s emergency services about potential threats to their property or unusual situations unfolding in their neighborhood, regardless of whether they happen to actually be in Vermont at the moment.
Just last Thursday the new phone-based notification system, licensed from a national company called CodeRED, was put to the test in Hartford for the first time when the unseasonably early warming spell caused the ice to let go and start flowing on the White River.
Within minutes a message had been prepared and CodeRED was robo-calling those residents that dispatchers thought might be in the path of any potential flash flooding.
“It worked out great,” said Scott Smith, Hartford’s Emergency Communications Director. “We notified people along the river that we were monitoring the ice jams. Well over 60 percent of the calls made contact.”
Like anything having to do with computers, the system is only as good as the data it has to work with, so this week Hartford Fire Chief Steve Locke urged residents to take the time to log onto the town’s website and fill out a brief on-line form in order to let CodeRED know which phone numbers to contact for any given address.
The site is at www.Hartford-vt.org and once there registrants should follow the link to the “CodeRED Community Notification Enrollment” page.
“No one should assume his or her phone number is included,” Locke wrote in his statement urging residents to register, noting, “If your phone number is not in the database, you will not be called.”
Businesses as well as residences are urged to get their information on file, keeping in mind that in this case it is the properties, not the people, that serve as the points of reference that make the system work.
“It’s all tied to the addresses,” Smith said. “So if a second-home owner types in their address and then links their cell phone number to it they’ll be notified whether they are here or not.”
Any valid phone number whether fixed, mobile, or voice-over-Internet will work just fine as long as the database knows to call it if a particular street address has something going on around it that town officials have determined merits an urgent message.
The system can broadcast town-wide or just to particular village areas such as Quechee or it can focus down much closer.
“It can be narrowed down to specific streets or even houses,” Smith said. “It’s going to be used for quite a few things. The water and sewer department could notify homeowners of a drinking water problem or, if a child was lost, we could put out a call to a radius around that neighborhood notifying all those residents to be on the lookout. On the computer maps there is even a `paintbrush’ feature where we can select exactly the area we want,” Smith explained.
“This also gives us the ability to not notify people,” Smith said, “Say we had something like a hostage situation in a neighborhood and we didn’t want that particular residence to be called but we wanted to notify the surrounding residents as to what was going on. We could do that.”
The CodeRED registration form asks interested residents and business owners to provide their first and last name, the physical street address for the property or properties that they want included, and the phone numbers to be contacted. “The data collected will only be used for emergency notification purposes,” Chief Locke said.
Those without Internet access who wish to participate can call Scott Smith directly at Hartford Emergency Communications at (802) 280-1001 between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.


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