Bloomfield Hills, Oakland CountyAugust 6, 2014
County, Bloomfield Hills offered new e-alerts for emergencies
By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer
OAKLAND COUNTY/BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Ever wonder what kind of crime or severe weather might be headed toward your home? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that.
In fact, there are a couple of new apps for Oakland County residents — and specifically Bloomfield Hills residents — to keep them in the know about nearby emergency situations.
Earlier this month, Oakland County launched an electronic alert system called OakAlert designed to send text messages and email alerts to participants with information about impending dangerous weather or other emergencies in the county.
The service is free to those who register, though regular carrier text rates may apply. Alerts could include circumstances such as road closures for a hazardous material release, evacuations prompted by shooter situations and even warnings about tornadoes or severe weather — that includes letting users know when those weather sirens are just routine tests.
“It’s for emergency alerts, which will be few and far between, hopefully,” said Sarah Stoddard, chief of emergency management for the Oakland County Security Division. She noted that the alerts about the routine siren testing allow users and the county to know that the OakAlert system is working.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson encouraged all Oakland County residents and businesses to sign up for OakAlert.
While it’s good to know what’s happening in the county, there’s something to be said for hyper-local information. Many municipalities in the Eagle’s coverage area offer city or village-specific alerts, including Birmingham’s Nixle service and email alerts from the Franklin-Bingham Farm Police Department. Now, Bloomfield Hills is offering a similar option to its residents.
Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Chief David Hendrickson announced July 16 that the city has contracted with CodeRED to provide emergency notifications to the community.
The city had actually used another vendor until now, but decided to switch to CodeRED for reduced costs and better technologies and benefits. Hendrickson said that the old alert system cost the department’s contractual services budget $6,800 per year, while CodeRED will cost the department $4,300 annually.
CodeRED will allow local police to send phone calls, text messages, emails and social media blasts to residents to inform them of a situation that directly affects their safety. According to information provided by the Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Department, officials across the country have credited CodeRED notifications with locating missing children, apprehending wanted criminals and performing timely evacuations.
“The value of the CodeRED system for our community is the timeliness of the system and the additional feature of being able to call residents or anyone in a particular area to warn them about a specific issue or to keep them updated on the progress of an incident that is being dealt with,” said Hendrickson. “We would use the system to help people make the determination to (take) shelter in a place or evacuate during an emergency or to avoid an area altogether.”
The city of Bloomfield Hills has been provided an initial database of residential and business phone numbers, though all residents are encouraged to visit the city’s website and click on the CodeRED logo to register their information to be included in the notifications.
For more information on CodeRED for Bloomfield Hills, visit www.BloomfieldHillsMi.net. To learn more about OakAlert, visit the county’s website at www.OakGov.com and click on the OakAlert and Be Prepared Links.
Staff Writer Terry Oparka contributed to this report.