City Engages Notification Systems To Alert Residents

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We here at WOUB think we do a pretty good job of keeping Athens residents informed about what's going on in the city, but if you're looking for even more information, think NIXLE.

“It’s intended to be an emergency notification system,” said Ron Lucas, Athens deputy service safety director. “The way it works is citizens go only to and look for the Athens community and sign up for the service. Once they are there, they can pick various levels of media that would contact them for different levels of services.”

For example, Lucas explains, a person might sign up for text messaging and email for emergency notifications. Other notification options include boil orders, reminders for city council meetings or general public information, such as street closures.

Lucas says Athens "frequently" uses NIXLE and another sign-up service offered through the city's website to notify residents.    

 “Another neat thing that NIXLE does is it populates our social networking with any press release that we put out. So, for example, if we put out an emergency notification for a thunderstorm, it will not only go to those folks who are signed up for NIXLE, but it will also populate our Facebook page and our Twitter site,” said Lucas.

The city also recently began using Civic Plus for the municipal website. This web server allows for the same type of public information that NIXLE offers.

Citizens can sign up and become a member and customize what information they receive.

Lucas says information posted on the city website is also automatically posted on Facebook and distributed through Twitter.

“We have over a thousand followers on Facebook and Twitter. I’m not sure how many people are signed up for NIXLE, it’s not a huge number, last I checked we had about 400-some people signed up for NIXLE,” said Lucas.

Lucas couldn’t put a hard figure on the number of people signed up for the city’s website, either.

This is not done for free but Lucas indicates it’s money well spent.

“The new website, there was a large front end cost: it was about $15,000 up front, but it’s a yearly maintenance fee that’s not nearly that much. I think it’s in the $3,000 range for our yearly maintenance,” said Lucas. “NIXLE service is free, somewhat.  Initially, it’s free and it just does some emergency notification but to get it to populate all the different websites and to make the user experience more friendly from both a public information officer standpoint and also a user, we paid about $6,000.”

That’s an annual charge, says Lucas.

Athens County operates a 9-1-1 service and it, too, provides information to both city residents and those in outlying areas.

If you've got a land line telephone, you automatically get certain notifications.

People with cell phones can get them as well, but they have to sign up.