Approve funding for the utilization of “CivicAlert” as a city-wide emergency alert notification system in the amount of $7,684 for the first year of service and $6,584 for subsequent years.
Staff was approached by CivicPlus with a module to our website platform. This module expands our ability to notify the public of emergencies, events, and news. These features are in line with our recent push to modernize our communication with the public.
As part of our requirements to operate a water, sewer, and gas utility we are required to have an emergency notification plan. CivicAlert meets these requirements and has minimal impact to an already overloaded staff workload.
CivicAlert is a module of our website platform. At its core it is a notification system. While this is somewhat already a function, we have access to via our website, it will integrate seamlessly into our content management system and expand its functionality in some very exciting ways.
We would go from a 500 SMS message limit to unlimited text volume. It would allow citizens to freely choose whichever notification method they prefer rather than be limited to email only. This kind of freedom is important to build a meaningful subscriber base. You would also gain the ability to utilize text-to-speech technology. The system could give phone calls that would show “City of Coalinga 935-1533” and verbally tell people what is happening.
Additionally, it adds the ability to select recipients based on geographical location, known as geo-fencing. Some use cases for this would be road construction in a given area, utility outages, main flushing activity, or council meetings. For example, if there were to be a water main leak on Sunset Street, staff could notify the homes that are affected. The notification would give pertinent details of when services are expected to be returned or whatever message you desired.
Most importantly, this module would allow city wide or geo-fenced forced notifications in the event of crisis via “Integrated Public Alert and Warning System” or IPAWS. You could make a geographical selection and alert ALL cell phones in that area to whatever emergency may be taking place. Active shooters, boil water notices, widespread fire, extreme weather, earthquakes, or natural gas leaks are some noteworthy uses. This is something that FEMA has some strict guidelines on, and it requires training to be able to utilize this system. That training is provided for in the cost of the module, however.
Continue to utilize the basic features of our website to hand out notifications, make phone calls, or send letters to homes. In the event of an actual emergency, there is very little that can compare to this kind of functionality.
V. FISCAL IMPACT:
Staff is requesting $7,684 to purchase the first year of service and $6,584 for subsequent years. This item will be purchased using only Enterprise and Gas Tax funds. There will be no impact to the General Fund.