North Adams and Pittsfield are launching messaging systems to alert residents in the event of an emergency in their communities.
Known as CodeRED, the system will send alerts via home phone, cell phone, email and text to thousands of citizens within minutes. It can be used to target specific areas or the entire community.
The system has already been installed in North Adams. Pittsfield will have installed the system by the end of the month.
A demonstration of the CodeRED system will take place at tonight's North Adams City Council meeting, which will be televised live on Channel 17 of Northern Berkshire Community Television at 7:30. North Adams officials plan to test the system at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18.
CodeRED is provided by the Emergency Communications Network of Ormond Beach, Fla. It has been adopted by communities in several states, including Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Washington and Wyoming.
In Georgetown, which is east of Lawrence, officials used CodeRED last month to alert residents about townwide spraying of mosquitoes for the West Nile Virus, according to ECN's website. Police in Tewksbury recently utilized CodeRED to seek help in tracking a burglary suspect. CodeRED can also be used for weather emergencies.
"We have a reverse-911 system that is very similar, but it's old technology," North Adams Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said. "If I want to put out a notice to the
"I think it's a great service and a terrific tool for the community," said Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi. "It's a very state-of-the-art notification system and seems to be a real benefit to the public."
"We seem to have had a lot of natural disasters the last couple of years," he said, speaking in general terms, not specifically about Pittsfield. "We want to have the capability to notify people and this will do it."
In Pittsfield, citywide CodeRED calls will be activated only in the event of a serious weather or other emergency. Messages can inform residents in a neighborhood about topics such as missing children, road closures, hydrant flushing, mosquito spraying and other news that's specific to them. All residents with public telephone numbers will be called in the event of a serious emergency, but residents can opt out of receiving non-emergency calls that are specific to their neighborhood.
In North Adams, funding is being provided through the city's technology account fund.
"Such systems are only as good as the telephone number database supporting them," North Adams Commissioner of Public Safety John Morocco said in a press release Monday. "All businesses should register, as well as all individuals who have unlisted phone numbers, who have changed their phone number or address within the past year, and those who use a cellular phone as their primary number.
Morocco urged all individuals and businesses to log onto the city of North Adams website, www.northadams-ma.gov, and follow the link to the "Sign up for CodeRED@Alert Notification" page.
Those without Internet access in North Adams can visit either the North Adams Public Library or the Mary Spitzer Center, or call the Office of Public Safety at 413-662-3101 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, to supply their information over the phone.
According to the press release, required information includes first and last name, physical street address, city, state, zip code and primary phone number. Additional phone numbers can be entered as well email address. All data entered into the database is used exclusively by the city of North Adams and will not be shared.