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City-county service will provide real-time alerts about incidents

SALISBURY — A city-county partnership unveiled Tuesday and called RoCo Alerts will provide real-time notifications to local residents about emergency and non-emergency events.

Notifications could range from community festivals to public safety items, said Rowan County Emergency Services Division Chief T.J. Brown. A presentation to the Salisbury City Council on Tuesday used missing persons reports, waste collection notifications and weather alerts as specific examples. The notifications — provided to those who sign up at no charge — could come via text message, email, phone calls or through a smartphone application called Everbridge. Standard messaging rates will apply.

The city previously used a service called Nixle. Rowan County used a similar service called Code Red. After county government purchased the Everbridge system in July, its staff began working with the city on particulars of the combined service, which is now available. City government paid for an add-on that can be used for events like the Cheerwine Festival.

“Our evolution from Nixle to RoCo Alerts will make Salisbury and the county even more effective in making sure our citizens know what’s going on in their communities,” said City Manager Lane Bailey “This is also an opportunity to work more closely with the county to ensure that we have a more informed citizenry.”

T.J. Brown stressed the service isn’t limited to folks who live in Salisbury or outside of a municipality’s limits. Anyone who lives in Rowan County can sign up and receive live updates.

People previously signed up for Nixle will automatically be transferred to RoCo Alerts, said Kaisha Brown, communications specialist for the city of Salisbury.

As an example, T.J. Brown talked about a large, 2018 fire at the Holmes Iron and Metal salvage yard in East Spencer. While battling the blaze, emergency crews shut off power to nearby houses and opened a shelter for those affected. RoCo Alerts could have, for example, called cell phone numbers of participants to let them know about both items.

“Rowan County and Salisbury have always worked to provide timely messaging about important incidents and events that impact our residents and visitors,” T.J. Brown said. “This partnership ensures all county citizens have the ability to receive important information from a singular source.”

Those interested can subscribe to the service by visiting rowancountync.gov/rocoalerts or salisburync.gov/rocoalerts.

Once there, visitors are prompted to input at least two methods of contact and addresses for which they would like to receive alerts. The RoCo Alerts website allows users to input multiple addresses — work and home, for example.

Brown said people who download the application called Everbridge — available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store — can receive updates about incidents in their exact location, whether or not that location is one of the addresses he or she entered when signing up for RoCo Alerts.

People sending out notifications will be police, fire, public services, emergency management and city communications staff, Kaisha and T.J. Brown said. The pair said users can control which notifications they receive and that staff sending out the notifications wouldn’t do so for minor incidents.

“We want to provide timely, factual information from a trusted source,” T.J. Brown said.

For more information, call (704) 638-4460 or email coscommunications@salisburync.gov

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Kaisha Brown’s name.

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