Alert system suspended, council to vote on renewal

WAAY 31 spoke with people who say the service is something they rely on daily.

Posted: Jan 10, 2019 7:45 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2019 10:21 AM

Thousands of people in Athens are no longer getting alerts from the City after its contract with the program “Nixle” ended at the beginning of this year.

The Nixle program allows the City and first responders to send alerts by text and email to inform people of wrecks, fires and other emergencies.

WAAY 31 spoke with people who say the service is something they rely on daily.

“When I hear the 'ding' on my phone, I try to pull over when I can," Zak Trotter said.

Trotter is a truck driver from Athens and a safe one—especially when he hears the sound of a notification on his phone.

Some of those notifications used to come from a program called Nixle.

“I signed up for it as soon as it became available," Trotter said.

Since 2011, the program has allowed the City of Athens and first responders to send out alerts via text and email to let residents know of events and emergencies.

“I just know that when I hear a Nixle alert, I know something important is happening in Athens, so I try to keep up and keep track of it," Trotter said.

However, the City of Athens suspended the program when the new year started as its no longer free.

The City will now have to pay about $4,700 a year, for three years, if they renew their contract with the program.

Trotter says, in his eyes, it’s a no-brainer.

“Definitely worth it," he said.

In fact, he says, he’s depended on it as it’s helped him do his job safely and more efficiently.

“To know where the roads are closed, I don’t have to go around that area," he said.

And that’s not all. The program also sends out alerts about active police scenes, fires, amber alerts, power outages, and weather updates.

“Tornado warning, tornado watch, and so I try to avoid the area if I can," Trotter said. "I hate being on the road in bad weather.”

Right now, 4,000 people in Athens receive the text message alerts and 2,000 receive emails.

Trotter has no doubt, if the contract with the program is renewed, more people will sign up for it, and he hopes the City will take that into consideration.

“I’d like to be kept in the loop," he said.

The city council will vote whether or not to approve the new three-year contract with Nixle at their meeting on Monday.

City officials tell WAAY 31, if the council votes to renew the contract, it will come with upgrades like Spanish translations, messages sent to impacted areas only, and automatic alerts from the National Weather Service.

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