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Editor's Voice: A switch in alert systems is a win for everyone

Posted 7/9/13

Middletown Borough Council’s decision to switch emergency alert systems from CodeRED to Nixle Alerts is significant in several ways.

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Editor's Voice: A switch in alert systems is a win for everyone

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First, it saves the borough money. CodeRED charged the borough more than $7,000 in 2010 to send automated emergency alerts to residents who had signed up for the service – and more than $20,000 in 2011, when Tropical Storm Lee flooded the area. Nixle will charge a flat rate of $4,500, with no extra charges for high usage. Currently, the borough is paying for both services – the police department uses CodeRED.

Second, it promises to reach even more residents: In emergencies, CodeRED made calls to residents’ homes, while Nixle will contact residents via cell phone and e-mail as well as home phone.

Third, Nixle’s flexibility allows the borough to use the system for a wider variety of reasons – weather alerts, meeting notices and other more general information.

“We’re getting more for less,’’ said Councilor Barbara Arnold, one of seven councilors who voted for the switch.

Some councilors were unsure that enough research into the subject had been done. That was the reason cited by Councilor Donald Brooks for his vote against the switch. Councilor Scott Sites also voted against the measure. Councilor David Rhen voted for the switch on the condition that the borough make sure Nixle isn’t locked into a contract with CodeRED.

If the switch can be made, the decision is a credit to the resourcefulness of resident Dawn Knull, and council’s willingness to listen to and work with the public to make Middletown better.

Knull had suggested the switch at a June meeting, and the borough followed up on her suggestion this month. It appears everyone will benefit from the collaboration.

The borough has set no timeline for terminating CodeRED. Once that happens, the borough will have to stage a campaign to get residents and businesses to register for the Nixle alerts, just as they had registered for the CodeRED alerts. There are no plans yet for that, but an aggressive public campaign would best serve Middletown and the safety of its citizens.

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