Cullman County residents who want customized local alerts for everything from hazardous weather to municipal street closings will soon have a new online tool they can tweak to their preference.
The Cullman County Commission is adopting a local alert system produced by American Signal Corp., a manufacturer of sirens and public safety support networks, that will roll out to all county residents who opt into the program in the coming months. The system will deliver alerts messages via email, text message, or voice call to both mobile devices and internet-connected computers.
At the commission’s regular meeting Tuesday, Cullman County Emergency Management Agency director Phyllis Little updated commissioners on the new system’s pre-deployment progress. “People will be able to choose where they want their alerts to come from,” she said, “whether it’s for tornado warnings or even special events like road advisories for Rock the South.
“It’s a really, really great system, and it’s a wonderful benefit to the citizens of Cullman County that will be provided completely free of charge to anyone who wants to receive the alerts,” she added.
Leaders in all 12 local municipalities will be able to participate in, and contribute to, hyper-local alerts that concern residents who live in their area. But Little pointed out that individual users can receive as many or as few alerts as they like — even if they emanate from locations miles from where they live or do business.
“You can live at Fairview and elect to receive alerts from the City of Cullman or from Hanceville,” she said, noting that users can enroll in the program either via text message or via a soon-to-launch dedicated website. “When you first sign up for the alerts, you’ll be able to configure a wide array of options for the type of alert messages you want to receive. By default, enrolling through the text message service will enroll you for four ‘critical’ alerts including tornado warning, thunderstorm warning, hazmat alert, and shelter-in-place alert. But you can go in and change those settings at any time after you’re in the system.”
Users also can specify whether they’d like to receive their alerts around the clock, or only from 6 a.m.-11 p.m., she said. A testing period involving county employees, elected officials, and municipal leaders from across the county will begin in early July, with Little anticipating a launch date sometime in August — if the system is bug-free by then.
“A lot of states around Alabama use this system already, and especially a lot of states and counties out west. It’s worked well for them,” said Little. “We feel like it’s going to be a very good thing for our residents in Cullman County, and we appreciate the commission’s support in making it happen.”