Federal agency will be testing its public alert and warning system; city officials recommend signing up for local alerts
By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news
Ashland residents can anticipate receiving a test emergency message in the first week of October as part of a trial of national emergency alert systems — and the city of Ashland continues to remind residents to sign up for the Citizen Alert Everbridge system.
Test messages will appear on televisions, cell phones and radios at 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, through the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System, a system created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to a release on the national test from FEMA. Through coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, all wireless providers are participating in the alert and warning system.
For the Wednesday test, all mobile phones in range of a wireless tower should receive a single text alert message.
In a release on the city of Ashland’s website, the city announced the national test and encouraged residents to sign up for the Everbridge system for local emergencies and warnings. In June 2023, Ashland switched its emergency alert system from Nixle to Everbridge for a number of reasons, from better targeted messaging to cost, said Kelly Burns, emergency manager for the city of Ashland.
Ashland had a good rate of sign-up with Nixle, around 19,000 people, he said. But the way Nixle sends alerts, that high number can lead to message fatigue.
“When I send a message to my zip code (with Nixle) it’s a blast to all those 19,000 people. Everbridge has a way you take a map and draw a polygon around an area — say you have a law enforcement action or a power outage. I don’t need 19,000 people, those 19,000 people don’t really need every message — with Everbridge I can target just those people who need the message,” Burns said.
Burns also noted that Everbridge bought Nixle last year, but has been trimming down Nixle’s workforce since. Nixle also charged the city of Ashland around $5,000 annually, he said, while Everbridge is now in contract with the state of Oregon to provide emergency alerts state-wide. For all these reasons, the switch to Everbridge, “ just seemed a pretty easy, smart step,” he said.
To learn more about the switch and how to sign up for Everbridge, go to this statement on the city website.
Email Ashland.news reporter Morgan Rothborne at firstname.lastname@example.org.