Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi has announced a new emergency notification system that can reach every home and business within targeted areas to disseminate crucial public safety messages - within minutes. The system, already up and running, is the only one of its kind in the tri-state area.
The new technology, supplied by the New Jersey-based Swiftreach Networks, can target extremely precise areas. For instance, it can draw a circle, square or any other free-hand design on a map and call every land-line within the design's boundaries. The system can also pinpoint a specific point on a map and call every land-line within a certain radius of that point. Additionally, it can call specific pre-programmed lists of individual names and numbers.
"Public safety is one of government's primary responsibilities," Suozzi said. "Our new emergency notification system vastly improves our ability to get crucial, targeted information out to the public during emergencies. And it allows us to tailor the message to specific areas. Our coastal communities, for instance, are vulnerable to hurricanes, and now we reach out to those most at risk with possibly life-saving evacuation information."
The system - installed by the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management on August 1 - can leave messages on answering machines, and can re-try busy phones until someone is reached. And it can be set up to allow any pre-programmed message to be played in multiple languages. It's also TDD/TTY compatible for the hearing impaired.
The contract with Swiftreach also provides the county with five toll-free 800 numbers, in case residents need more detailed messages with very specific information. These lines can also transfer callers to live operators, if necessary. The toll-free lines are designed to limit the number of calls to 911 operators, who would otherwise be overwhelmed in an emergency. The system can also be set to record responses to specific questions.
The system can act as a crucial aid in first-responder mobilization. It is equipped to make lists of land-line and cell-phone numbers and email addresses. That means it can, for example, keep a list of email addresses and cell, text and land-line numbers for every Nassau County police officer, so each can be reached if a major mobilization were necessary.
The system will cost the county $168,000 for the first year, and $120,000 for subsequent years. Nassau County has entered into a one-year contract with Swiftreach, with two one-year options. This contract was unanimously approved by the Nassau County Legislature on July 18.
To save money and avoid duplication of services, the County secured reduced pricing for cities, villages, towns and water districts to purchase their own administrative rights to use the county's system to make their own calls. Under the contract, these local governments can buy the rights for $4,200 a year - far less than the $20,000 price-tag if they purchased it on their own.