By Jeff Gallatin
Mayor Debbie Sutherland is ready to dial up additional assistance for notifying residents when there is an emergency situation.
Sutherland is asking Bay Village City Council to approve having the city utilize the Web-based Nixle Dial system to notify some Bay Village residents in case of emergencies like those that occurred during Superstorm Sandy last fall. The mayor indicated it would primarily be for residents who don’t have access to e-mails or who don’t have smartphones.
“The dial system would automatically call them in an emergency situation where they need notification or emergency information,” she said. “We wanted to find a better way of reaching these residents, and the Nixle system will provide good service.”
Sutherland noted the city fire and police departments already use a Nixle system for emergencies.
“It’s worked well for us with our police and fire safety forces,” she said.
Fire Chief Chris Lyons said the system has worked well for his department.
“We actually got it just a short time before Sandy hit,” he said. “Nixle had a free system for safety forces which actually has worked well for the city. As safety director for the city, Mayor Sutherland has had access to it and the chance to see how it works. She’s liked what she has seen, and when I looked into it in comparison to other systems, it seems to work well and is relatively inexpensive compared to other systems.”
The system’s callback options and ability to reach residents is a major plus, Lyons said.
“Not every resident has access to the technology to get e-mails or access a smartphone, so we need a proven system which can reach those residents,” he said.
Sutherland said she considered a proposed Cuyahoga County automated phone alert system, but decided against pursuing it at this time.
“They’ve been talking about it for a while, and then it got delayed at the end of 2012,” she said. “I didn’t really want to wait any longer to get something moving for the residents. So I looked into other possibilities and settled on the Nixle Dial program.”
She said the Nixle system takes the responsibility for contacting the residents.
“They will have phone numbers on file and they will update those records every month, so it should be pretty current all the time,” she said.
Sutherland said it would cost about $5,100 annually.
Mike Young, chairman of City Council’s Finance Committee, said prior to Monday’s meeting that he thinks it’s a good proposal.
“We’ve talked about it in Finance Committee a couple of times and it looks pretty good in terms of what our needs are,” he said. “We have a fair number of seniors and other people who we need to make sure we can reach with information in an emergency, and Nixle has made a pretty good case for itself that it can get that done. The mayor and fire chief also seem to be pretty impressed with what it can can do; and it seems like it’s a pretty good value, as well as a price we can fit into the city budget this year.”
The mayor said she’d like to have the system approved by April.
“That’s the start of the tornado season. and I think we need to have something ready to go by then,” she said.