Electronic Emergency Alerts Campaign Kicks Off in Marin

Marin Count Supervisor Judy Arnold appears at debut event at Vintage Oaks in Novato.

By Bay City News Service

People who live, work or attend school in Marin are now able to receive emergency alerts by text, voice or email on their cell phones through the Alert Marin system.  

The new Alert Marin emergency notification system is an upgrade to the existing Telephone Emergency Notification System the county began five years ago.   

Marin County Supervisor Judy Arnold, who represents most of Novato in her District 5 jurisdiction, helped kick off the publicity campaign Saturday by helping out at a booth at Vintage Oaks Shopping Center. Arnold and Marin Emergency Services Coordinator Ursula Hanks were among about 25 volunteers who manned 13 Alert Marin locations in the county on Jan. 26. 

TENS uses a combination of telephone, computer and Geographic Information System technologies that sends recorded emergency information or warnings to listed and unlisted or blocked landline telephone numbers in designated geographic areas, and by SMS text and/or email, said Chris Reilly, the Marin County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services manager.   

Alert Marin will send emergency information by text, voice or email to cell phone and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone numbers.  

"Most people are abandoning their landlines. This will give us access to more phone lines and send out messages faster," Reilly said.   

Sending the alerts by text, voice or email to cell phones is the main upgrade to the TENS communication system the county put in place five years ago, Reilly said.  

The Alert Marin system will be launched to the public on Saturday when volunteers will pass out literature and answer questions at 10 police and fire stations and city and county libraries in Marin.  

Anyone who lives, works or attends school in the county can register their cell phone or VoIP phone number on the secure, self-registration portal.  

Participants age 18 or older may register different geographic locations to receive emergency notifications, including, home, work, a child's school, parents' home or businesses.   

Each address is a separate registration and requires a separate, unique email. Two cell phone numbers and one VoIP number may be registered per email address.   "

The three main emergencies in Marin County are wildfires, earthquakes and floods," Reilly said.   

TENS has been used for those events and subsequent evacuations, hazard warnings and crimes that affect a neighborhood.   

It can also be used for reporting missing children or adults at risk, shelter in place advisories, tsunami warnings and school lockdowns during police activity. TENS augments other public notification systems that include sirens, radio, television and the Internet. The upgraded system also includes TTY/TDD messaging for the deaf.    

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Jay January 29, 2013 at 06:04 PM
I tried to sign up via my cell phone but was unsuccessful. If I found the process frustrating to the point of giving up, I wonder how others are going to fare and how well this is going to work.
Craig Knowlton January 29, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Jay, you may have to use a computer to sign up if you are not able to register directly on your cell phone. You may also try re-registering on the phone, as some people have reported the second time works fine.


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