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Lakewood Starts A New Emergency Alert System

Texting Will Be Available For Lakewood Township
Texting Will Be Available For Lakewood Township (photo courtesy of Flickr user Joi)

A new emergency alert system in Lakewood will not only give residents up to the minute information as crisis happen but also inform them of important things going on throughout the town.

Lakewood Committeeman Mier Lichtenstein
Lakewood Committeeman Mier Lichtenstein (Lakewood Township website)

After last year’s glut of snow left the town struggling to get information and help out to its people, Lakewood committeeman Mier Lichtenstein realized there has to be a more efficient way of getting people informed quickly.

“The last two years when we had those large snow storms we looked at the different procedures that would benefit our residents our residents, both our safety and convenience. One of the issues we noticed was the lack of information that was flowing forth from the town, especially when the town is in such an emergency response mode.”

Lichtenstein along with Mayor Menashe Miller lead a project where people could receive alerts through text message, email, phone call. Lichtenstein notes that while many towns are rolling out alert systems, what makes Lakewood’s unique is you can customize alerts to be based an locations in town.

“You can choose the area in town you want to be alerted to. It can be the neighborhood you live in, it could be the neighborhood you work in, it could be the industrial part.” Additionally, the messages will go beyond standard emergency alerts for severe weather and the like. The committeeman points out that you have the option of including things like traffic alerts for accidents and back up, requests for proposals if you’re looking to bid on contract work, and even messages from the Department of Public Works to informing you of any changes to trash pickup or schedules for holiday trash pickups.

Lichtenstein says that the system will not only be a convenience to those who opt in to it, it will help save resources for the town since information can be sent out at once.

“Instead of Public Works getting inundated with trash collection days or confusion during holidays, or when is there going to be bulk pick up. If for example Public Works becomes one of the department who regularly get’s used to putting this out then people will know ‘when I get that text here’s what’s going on, I don’t need to call public works’. That prevents resources from getting tied up.”

He admits that for the program to succeed it’s going to take two important factors, residents are going to have to sign up and township departments are going to have to utilize the technology. Lichtenstein admits that it won’t be an overnight process for either size. “There’s going to be a learning curve and I don’t expect it to be a hundred percent right from the get go.”

Departments in towns will have special training with the new systems. As for the resident’s desire to sign up, he believes that as people move towards a more technologically savvy world “this is something that’s going to be part and parcel.” Noting that email and text message is already part of our culture and in the future there will be “lot’s of good information that will be able to flow to people with the click of a button.”

Participants who wish to sign up for the alerts can do so on their website. You can choose which methods of delivery are best, however Lichtenstein reminds users that many of the alerts happen in real time so it’s recommended to go with the less obtrusive email or text option.

“We want our residents to realize that anybody who signs up is going to be getting an emergency alert so if you choose to choose the phone option, your phone may ring at three in the morning.”

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