Ohio county adds text alerts in light of overwhelming public demand

Residents of Franklin County, Ohio,  are finally getting the bulk SMS alerts they wanted.

Officials from the Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security department announced that new emergency notification text messaging services will be available to county residents later this summer.

Kelly McGuire, a county public-affairs officer, said that the discussions surrounding the implementation of a SMS alert system has been in the works for some time before finally garnering approval this month.

"At the current time, we don't have a way to notify residents of a risk," she told the Rocky Ford Enterprise. "The director has talked about this for years. Two years ago, people got on board with it. There has been so many more disasters happening everywhere. A system to notify everyone would be advantageous to the whole community."

McGuire explained that the turning point in the development of a mass text messaging service was last year when the county engaged a firm to survey residents. The results were overwhelming.

"The study showed 90 percent of the public wanted a message through text messages, and 93 percent of the jurisdictions want that capability to text-message their residents," she said.

The new system will alert residents of severe weather conditions or boil alerts and has the capacity to be expanded to other alert types as needed. County workers are expected to be trained this week and the system should be up and running shortly thereafter, as the technology is cloud-based and doesn't require any infrastructure upgrades, according to the Rocky Ford Enterprise.

The local news outlet reports that many municipalities already implemented their own alert services. The new system will replace those individual ones with once unified platform, saving the local governments money through the consolidation. Alerts can be county-wide or community-specific depending on the emergency.