Delayed notification prompts proposal
Ken Shearer, Mayville mayor, is doing the right thing in looking at ways to alert village residents more quickly when there is an emergency.
Shearer is proposing using SlickText, a Jamestown company, to notify residents of emergencies by text message to their cell phones. Residents would have to sign up for the alerts, which would be free to residents and cost the village between $79 and $139 a month.
Shearer, and any other mayor or supervisor having a similar discussion, shouldn’t limit themselves to only one method of alerting residents to a problem. An email bulletin may be more convenient for some than a cell phone text message. Some may notice the message in the newspaper. Some may be better served with a phone call to a landline phone. As trustee Sun Ray Harrington said, sending only text messages isn’t going to reach all of the village’s residents.
Mayville trustees made a good decision to table this discussion until their next meeting. Serving village residents may require a varied approach, and more discussion and information is needed before deciding to spend money on an emergency alert system.
As a side note, Shearer wouldn’t have to take such action if the state’s system, NY Alert, got the word out more quickly to those who have signed up for its alerts. NY Alert is free and works through landline phones, email, text and fax, but only guarantees to send out alerts within a 12-hour period because the village has to first contact the county, which then contacts NY Alert for a notification to be sent out. The service is also poorly advertised, with relatively few actually signing up for service.
That is something that would assist Fredonia residents with the water emergency, but the system is far from perfect.
We don’t blame Shearer for looking to spend money to keep residents informed during an emergency.
Waiting 12 hours to notify residents of a necessary local order through NY Alert needlessly puts people in danger.
The state system’s lackluster performance is putting Shearer — and other mayors and supervisors — in the position of spending money unnecessarily in order to protect their residents.
The state should streamline NY Alert so that it can get messages out faster.