Civic News

Baltimore’s new emergency alert system looks to reach mobile devices

To subscribe to the Bmore Alert service, residents must submit their cell phone numbers and other contact info to the City of Baltimore.

The city wants your cell phone number.

(Courtesy photo)

The City of Baltimore is launching a new system that notifies residents of major emergencies.

At a news conference on Wednesday, ex officio Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the Bmore Alert system allows the city be able to send the notifications in the event of an emergency like a blizzard, train derailment or flood.

“We can trigger alerts to any specific geographic area in the city,” Young said.

The system is utilizing an application called CodeRED, made by Florida-based ONSolve. This allows the alerts to be sent to devices via call, text and email, as well as to social media. Any alerts sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can also be transmitted through the system.

“We really want this to be a collaboration between city government and the public — both putting information out to you, and you’ll be able to report information back to us,” said David McMillan, director of the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management.

In order to partake in that communication, however, citizens must submit their information. So the city is encouraging residents to submit cell phone numbers, email addresses, social media handles and other info at its website.

The city already has landline numbers, but those are declining in use.

“Only approximately one-third of households still have landlines, so with this official launch today we’re encouraging citizens to register for the system with cell phones and other contact information,” Young said.

As Baltimore Fishbowl noted, there could be concerns associated with this, including security and information sharing with other agencies. But in response to a reporter’s question about the latter, McMillan said the information would only be used for this purpose.

“All of the information is encrypted, and on top of that we wouldn’t use it for anything but emergency notifications,” he said. “So it’s very important for everybody to understand, this is just looking at major notifications for emergencies.”
Companies: City of Baltimore
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