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Monday, April 5, 2010

Emergency Txt Msgs From the City

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Mon, Apr 5, 2010 at 2:09 PM

Remember back in November when E. coli-laced bird shit wound up in our water and people without internet or TV didn't know about the outbreak for over 24 hours... including Mayor Adams' own mom? From November:

Adams recalled that he phoned his mom this afternoon to say he would not be able to make it for dinner at her Eastside home tonight. She asked why. “She didn’t know about the contamination. She doesn’t watch TV particularly and she didn’t know,” says Adams, who added that the idea also stems from cut backs in media that make city reliance on TV and print reporters widespread publicity of city announcements less feasible.

At the time, Mayor Adams suggested some sort of database of Portlanders' phone numbers that could be robo-called or texted en masse during an emergency. Today that dream is alive!

As of today, you can officially hand your cell phone number over to the city at the new public alerts website. Back when I lived in Iowa, my town had several giant tornado sirens stationed around central areas that would let out a coordinated wail every Thursday at 11am as a test. This is a bit of a technology upgrade, but will it actually work? Will Portlanders sign up for the alerts (I did)? Will a 16-year-old hack the system and send a city-wide sext? Yes, please.

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