Denver residents are able to sign up for emergency cellphone alerts for the first time in two years after the city hired a new company to manage its notification system.
Residents can opt-in by registering online to receive messages about emergencies such as local police activity, natural disasters and gas leaks via text message, email or a phone call by visiting member.everbridge.net/509490495488038/new.
The new system is capable of sending messages to specific neighborhoods, but only to people whose cellphones are registered. The system differs from Amber Alerts, which are sent by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation via the federal alert network.
Denver signed a contract with Everbridge in late 2019, but the pandemic interrupted the city’s plans to bring the system online. Boulder County hired the same company around the same time and also was struggling to get its system up and running when the Dec. 30 Marshall fire destroyed more than 1,084 homes and killed two people.
After the fire, evacuees questioned the system because so many people said they never received notification about the evacuations. Most of them did not know they needed to go online to register to receive cellphone notifications.
Emergency alert systems are regulated by the federal government and technology changes as more and more people abandon landlines for cellphones. Landline users automatically are enrolled in these systems, traditionally known as Reverse 911, because phone companies share their databases with the emergency system. However, there are no reliable databases for cellphone numbers.
Users do not have to be Denver residents to sign up. People can provide multiple locations and methods of communication on the portal.
It is recommended that every person in a household register for the alerts, and that contact and location information is kept up to date. Users can update their information or opt out of notifications at any time through the portal, according to a Denver Department of Public Safety news release.
All but 13 of Colorado’s counties require cellphone users to opt-in to receive emergency notifications on their cellphones.
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