The new Nixle communication service launched Feb. 12 in Robbinsville allows the police and the Township Office of Emergency Management to communicate with residents using the latest cell phone and Web-based technologies. Residents can customize their subscription settings to receive only the type of news they want, such as emergency police advisories, localized traffic updates, and more.
Township Administrator Joy Tozzi said the township signed up for Nixle because of the “feedback from residents” after Hurricane Sandy last October. Residents without working landline phones or electrical power had no way of receiving the email messages and reverse 911 phone calls that the township broadcast with storm-related information, including the location of emergency shelters and where to obtain free bottled water and bags of ice.
“It’s a free service actually and it can do all our media outlets at once, Facebook, Twitter and all of that,” Tozzi said at the Feb. 14 Township Council meeting.
Councilman Vince Calcagno said signing up for the service is simple and quick.
“I think it’s going to be very useful in getting out blasts to smartphones,” Calcagno said. “I have it on my phone and it takes like two seconds to sign up for it.”
Calcagno said that if subscribers turn on the “location services feature,” Nixle also will send emergency alerts related to wherever residents happen to be, not just alerts related to Robbinsville.
“You can set it up so that if follows you,” Calcagno said. “It knows where you are… if you’re in another town and there is some kind of emergency that you need to know about, it will send you an alert.”
The service is secure and reliable, township officials said. All cell phone numbers are kept safe in the Nixle server and the company says it will not sell, or otherwise provide this information to any third party.
Residents can immediately begin receiving pertinent information via text message, email, and the web simply by texting their ZIP code in the body of a message to 888777. Residents can also register online at www.nixle.com.
Web links that include photos and maps of an affected area also can be provided for residents using smartphones. Nixle messages are sent to residents registered within a quarter-mile radius, giving them the opportunity to receive trustworthy information relevant only to their neighborhood. Subscribers can also choose the way in which alerts are received, whether it is by email, text message, or via the Internet.