Boone County officals review new alert system after first month

8 months 1 week 2 days ago October 13, 2016 Oct 13, 2016 Thursday, October 13 2016 Thursday, October 13, 2016 6:25:00 PM CDT in News
By: Adam Pressler, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA –Boone County's new alert system is only a few weeks old and officals are now weighing in on how the system is performing.

The RAVE Emergency Alert System is part of the Smart911 technology and allows residents to receive real-time updates about local emergency responses. However, one local fire district said it's not reaching all of Boone County.

“RAVE is an important notification tool for internal staff as well as a way to notify the public," said Gale Blomenkamp, Public Information Officer at Boone County Fire District.

Tom Hurley, Deputy Director for Boone County Emergency Management, said the new system was put in place to provide citizens with real-time emergency response updates.

“You enter your phone number and information to receive text message alerts or email alerts regarding incidents which occur within Boone County and the city of Columbia. Often times they are traffic related but they could be any sort of emergency type notification that we need to push out to citizens using text message or email,” said Hurley.

Brad Fraizer, Fire Marshal and Assistant Fire Chief for the Columbia Fire Department said the system is an important part of his department's communication with the public.

"RAVE is a very valuable tool that allows communication through Boone County Joint Communications. As a user agency we can communicate critical information to BCJC who then disseminates it and can use RAVE to do so," Fraizer said.

RAVE was implemented in Columbia on Sept. 14 of this year. Hurley said this was a result of expanding the software’s capabilities in addition to working with residents who already use Smart911.  

“This replaces a legacy system, Nixle, and from my understanding, Nixle was very well received within the community. It offers us a few more services and it is more robust in what it is able to offer us and it is offered within the Smart911 suit. So RAVE notifications allows us to capitalize on the information we have already captured through Smart911,” Hurley explained.

Joe Piper, Deputy Director of Boone County Joint Communications, said the goal of Smart911 is to aid emergency responders by providing basic personal information.

“Smart911 is a resource or tool whereby a resident can provide information to 911 call takers in the event that they have to call 911. Information such as medical conditions, directions to their residence, information that would be helpful to 911 in aiding responders in locating people and addressing their emergency,” Piper said. “They make available the information that they would like for us to have,” he added.

Piper also said that a citizen's personal information will only be released by Smart911 if they call 911 for help. He said this prevents anyone from being able to access personal infomraiton without the consent of the provider.

[Editors Note: This story has been updated to clarify statements provided by CFD and BCFD] 

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