New technology is making it easier for police in Londonderry to get vital public safety messages to residents.
"We were using reverse 911," Eric Ledoux, an information technology specialist with the Police Department, told reporter Suzanne Laurent. "But it only covered land lines and a lot of people have switched over to using cell phones."
So Londonderry police have adopted a new alert program run through a computer-based system called Nixle. Residents who sign up for the program can have alerts sent to their computers by e-mail or to their cell phones by text message.
The system is used to get important information to residents quickly. It will be used to notify residents about dangerous weather, road closures and traffic problems caused by serious car accidents or heavy road construction. It can be used to alert residents to criminal activity in a given area and instruct them to stay either in or away from their homes when a dangerous offender may be on the loose.
The system can be invaluable in helping to find lost children or Alzheimer's patients.
There is no cost to the town or to residents using the service, although their cell-phone providers may charge them for receiving a text message.
Citizens can select the type of alerts they want sent to their cell phone and which they would rather receive in an e-mail. There are also options for receiving alerts from surrounding towns.
The more information people have about what is happening in their community, the better. People can use that information to make their own decisions on issues as simple as what route to take to work. They can use information about other dangers to assess the risk to themselves and their families.
Londonderry police should be commended for seeking ways to get that information to the public as efficiently as possible.