New emergency notification system to be used by York County

YORK – York County will begin using a new emergency notification system this fall, which is expected to greatly increase the percentage of local residents who use it.

Currently, the county has a contract with a company called Nixle, which sends out emergency notifications to local users via their cell phones, through text and email. As an example, those who signed up for the service receive information about storm warnings, law enforcement activities, issues with emergency phone lines, etc., which are generated by the local 911 emergency communications center.

The contract with Nixle will expire in September, says York/Seward County Emergency Manager Gary Petersen.

“We are looking for an upgrade,” Petersen told the York County Commissioners Tuesday morning during their regular meeting. “This move, to a contract with Everbridge, will improve the volume of usership.”

Incidentally, Everbridge recently purchased Nixle, Petersen and York County Emergency Communications Manager Leila Luft said.

The big reason it will increase the number of users is because all the cell and landline numbers in the county will be automatically loaded into the system. Residents will have the opportunity to opt out, if they choose. So instead of signing up, they will be then given the option to decline.

Petersen said about 10% of York County residents have signed up for Nixle and are using the service now. Based on the increase of usage seen in other counties, after the switch, it is expected that 80% of York County residents will be using it.

“The new system will provide a lot of benefits and when the time nears for the change, there will be information put out there, about how people can use the settings and set their own parameters if they chose,” Petersen said. “The big thing is to have more people reached in the event of an emergency.”

Commissioner Daniel Grotz asked if it is easy for individuals to opt out if they want. Petersen said he believed that was the case, but he also noted that residents in counties where they are already using Everbridge “really like it and it is a very effective way to get out that information, immediately.”

The commissioners agreed to sign the agreement, which Petersen then delivered to the ongoing meeting of the Seward County Commissioners who were also going to consider it. The two counties will share the cost which is $7,141.81 a year, for three years. The cost will be split 50/50 between the two entities.

More information will be made available to the public this fall, when the contract starts.


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