Sat04192014

News

Police unveil new resident alert service


Town Crier screenshot
The Los Altos Police Department recently began using Nixle as a supplemental emergency notification system.

The Los Altos Police Department has a new tool to keep residents informed on anything from road closures to local disasters.

According to Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis, the department recently began using Nixle, a notification system designed specifically for law enforcement and other government agencies. The department unveiled the new system during the July 13-14 Arts & Wine Festival in downtown Los Altos.

Younis told the Town Crier that the city opted to purchase the system – at a cost of approximately $4,000 annually – after attending the Social Media, the Internet and Law Enforcement Conference earlier this year.

“It’s a wonderful investment in order to get word out to our community for all sorts of needs,” Younis said of the service free to residents, which he noted was “an enhancement to” and not a replacement for Santa Clara County’s AlertSCC system.

The AlertSCC system, like Nixle, distributes emergency alerts to users via mobile devices and email, but also landlines.

Younis said the Nixle system allows law enforcement agencies to disseminate information quickly and easily across multiple platforms. Residents who sign up for the service receive notifications via email, text message or by downloading the Nixle app to their smartphones. He noted that the system is integrated with the Los Altos Police Department’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.

According to the company’s website, the Nixle system publishes messages released by law enforcement agencies, which can also assign levels of urgency. The messages are then disseminated to users located in the affected geographic regions.

The system includes the ability to view maps and pinpoint the location of specific incidents. Residents can expand the notification by adding specified regions. More than 4,000 public agencies across the country use Nixle as a community notification system, according to the privately held company. Other Bay Area agencies currently using Nixle include the Mountain View, Oakland and Fremont police departments and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

For Los Altos Police Department purposes, Younis said messages to participating residents would range from everyday housekeeping items such as road closures to alerts about missing persons, natural disaster emergencies and other community advisories.

“Clearly we have a need and an expectation from the public to send out timely messages,” said Younis, who added that he’s encouraging residents to sign up for both the Nixle and AlertSCC services. “This is a reliable tool that provides yet another platform for communication between residents and law enforcement.”

For more information, visit nixle.com/los-altos-police-department.

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