Law enforcement agencies stop using text message alert system

The Madison County Sheriff's Office is not using a text message alert system anymore that was previously used to notify people of traffic accidents, lane closures and more.

Posted: Jan 23, 2019 5:16 PM
Updated: Jan 23, 2019 7:20 PM

The Madison County Sheriff's Office is no longer using a text message alert system.  Athens was the first city to stop using the system and now others are following suit.

"You know, it makes it a little more difficult, but we'll adjust," said a Madison County resident, Nicole Soh.

This reaction comes after the Madison County Sheriff's Office said it would no longer use an emergency alert system to send out text messages. Instead, they'll now update the public via Twitter. Some Madison County residents said they'll miss having the alerts sent directly to their phones.

"This was just convenient because it came right to my phone like a text message. It didn't require me to be on Facebook or have my Facebook notifications on, because that can be distracting," said Soh.

WAAY 31 reached out to the company that provided the service. A spokesperson for Everbridge said agencies were sending out too many non-emergency text messages, causing people to unsubscribe. With a decrease in users and increase in text message rates, the company had to start charging agencies for the service.

"We can talk about traffic accidents. We can talk about road construction. That may not be may not be an emergency to Nixle but it is to our citizens and the people that travel our roads. We want them to continue to have a resource to know that there is a problem out there," said Donny Shaw with the Madison County Sheriff's Office.

When WAAY 31 asked Everbridge how much it would charge Madison County for the service, the company didn't give a dollar amount. It said the price is based on the size of the agency. Donny Shaw of the Madison County Sheriff's Office understands the frustration of not having the messages delivered straight to your phone. He said they'll still get the same messages out on Twitter.

"Change comes with progression and I can understand the frustration but I would just say, 'You did go in and you signed up for Nixle. You had to do a little bit of work through a computer, through a website to do that and what we're offering you for free is no different than to go in and sign up again,'" said Shaw.

Even though it's an inconvenience, Soh said she might be willing to use other social media.

"I may have to join Twitter. I haven't taken that step yet. Hopefully things will be on Facebook, or I may just be stuck in traffic," Soh said.

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