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Officials Use Technology to Reach Residents

By Evelina Burnett | Published 30 May 2013 09:24am | comments
(File photo)

Mississippi emergency officials are using technology to reach residents wherever they are – at home, on cell phones, or social media.

The land line phone: a device that may soon go the way of the record player and walkman. A study last year by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found that 34% of American homes don’t have land lines any more, relying only on cell phones.

That’s an increasing challenge for emergency officials, many of whom have used the reverse 911 system to call residents at home with urgent updates.

In Hancock County, emergency officials are now offering voicemail alerts on cell phones too, as well as by text and by email. About 400 people have signed up for the service in the past few weeks. The agency is also on Facebook. Hancock County emergency director Brian Adams says he will use whatever technology it takes to reach residents.

Text messages can be an effective way to communicate after storms, often coming through when regular phone calls may not. The challenge is getting residents to sign up, which they can do online or by phone. Devin Broome is vice president of First Call Network, the Baton Rouge based company that provides this service to Hancock County. He says the idea is to cast the net wide and try to reach people in a variety of ways – at home, on their cell, by text and email.   

On the coast, Harrison and Jackson counties also use First Call to offer a similar service to residents.

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