Waupaca County is launching a reverse 911 system that alerts residents and businesses of local emergencies.
CodeRED, which provides high-speed emergency notification services to hundreds of communities throughout the country, is set to be activated in Waupaca County on May 1.
The system will deliver alerts from city and county agencies regarding floods, fires, evacuations, criminal activity, boil water notices and missing children.
By using automated technology, CodeRED can also issue severe weather warnings to citizens living within the direct path of an oncoming storm.
“We have heard from other communities using this technology that residents are regularly notified of severe weather before they hear about the storm on TV, radio or anywhere else,” Waupaca County Sheriff Brad Hardel said. “The speed of the message delivery is critical for this type of warning technology.”
The alerts can be sent via phone calls, text messages or emails or a combination of all three.
To receive the messages, Waupaca County residents and businesses must register for the service. There is no charge to register.
Although CodeRED has created an area database from published phone numbers, Waupaca County Emergency Management Director Andrew Carlin encourages all residents to sign up in order to ensure their contact information is included in the system.
To register, go to Waupaca County’s home page at www.co.waupaca.wi.us and click on the CodeRED logo on the left side.
Residents whose landline numbers are already in the system may add their cellphone numbers, text and email addresses when they register. They may also indicate what types of weather warnings they want to receive.
“If you cannot register online, you can call 715-258-4464 and speak with one of our communications specialists to complete your registration over the telephone,” Carlin said.
Businesses may also register for emergency notifications.
“The advantage of having multiple locations is that if you live in Clintonville and work in New London, you will get notifications targeted for both,” said Eric Halverson, deputy director of the county emergency management office.
“It’s easy to register,” Halverson said. “I registered online and it took me literally just three minutes to sign up.”
Carlin noted that the information provided to CodeRED is confidential.
Emergency Communications Network, the Florida-based company that operates CodeRED, will not sell or trade the data.
“We don’t even get to look at the data,” Carlin said. “All your information is private.”
Carlin said the county has partnered with all local municipalities, so that city police and public works departments can send out general notifications.
“If a parade is going down Main Street, the city can notify residents when and where the street will be closed,” Carlin said.
He described an emergency situation in Waushara County in August 2013 when police had and armed standoff with a robbery suspect who fled into a home.
“Waushara County used CodeRED to evacuate neighbors,” Carlin said. “They just drew a circle on a map on a computer screen and all those people were notified automatically.”
If the CodeRED call goes to an answering machine, the system will leave a message.
If the phone is busy, it will try two more times to connect.
CodeRED emergency messages will have a caller ID number of 866-419-5000, while general notifications will have a caller ID of 855-969-4636.
There is also a CodeRED mobile app that can be downloaded for free on Google Play and iTunes.
Carlin said the CodeRED system will cost Waupaca County about $13,000 per year.
“The cost is less than putting in a siren. It is less than maintaining a siren,” Halverson said. “And an outdoor siren tells you nothing.”