Kannapolis adds service to connect with citizens

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kannapolis ó The city of Kannapolis has selected the Connect-CTY mass notification service from Blackboard Connect Inc. The city will conduct its first community-wide test call this coming Monday, Sept. 8.
Kannapolis has implemented the Connect-CTY service to provide city officials the ability to communicate with residents regarding time-sensitive incidents, which may include planned and unforeseen public safety matters.
The Connect-CTY service allows officials to record, send and track personalized voice messages to thousands of residents, businesses and local agencies in just minutes through a single phone call.
The city can also send text messages to cell phones, PDAs, e-mail accounts and TTY/TDD receiving devices for the hearing impaired. The service requires no additional hardware; it can be used from any computer with Internet access or just a telephone, ensuring that officials can send vital messages from wherever they are located.
“We are always looking for ways to enhance overall customer service and communication with residents,” Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg said in a press release. “Informing residents quickly in time-sensitive situations, such as a major ice storm or power outage, will help ensure that residents receive accurate information and proper direction, thus enabling city officials to focus efforts on recovery.”
City administrators can target messages to an unlimited number of groups ó everything from mobilizing emergency response teams to coordinating efforts with other agencies or volunteers. Authorized users also can use a map on the Connect-CTY system to contact specific geographical locations, sending messages only to the residents in select neighborhoods when needed.
“It’s important for residents to register their contact information into the secure Connect-CTY service’s database to make sure they are prepared to receive timely, critical information at any given time.” Legg said.
Publicly available primary residential and business phones in Kannapolis will automatically be included in the system. However, residents can opt-in to provide their complete information (up to three phone numbers and two e-mail addresses) and indicate if they have a TTY/TDD device by visiting the Kannapolis Web site (www.cityofkannap olis.com) and clicking on the link that says “Sign Up For Connect-CTY” to enter their information into the secure database.
Those without Internet access can add their information to the system by calling 704-920-4300. Residents with call blocking services can make sure to receive the city’s time-sensitive calls by adding 704-920-4300 to their approved number list.
“The best way to keep residents informed and, therefore, safe is through communication, and the Connect-CTY service makes it easy,” said Brendan Cotter, president of Connect-CTY. “With the Connect-CTY service, administrators have a powerful tool for mass communication without having to purchase new computers, software and telephone lines.”
The test call the coming Monday will help the city ensure residents are aware of the program and can provide correct phone numbers and e-mail addresses should they not receive the test message.