Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

November 19, 2013

Call system a good idea

Back in November 2007, then Mayor-elect Greg Goodnight was considering spending priorities for his administration’s first year. Citywide tornado sirens didn’t make the list.

The Kokomo Common Council passed on first reading an appropriation of $144,000 for sirens at each of the city’s fire stations. Goodnight said he wanted the city to pursue reverse 911 technology, in which emergency management could call homes and cellphones, warning residents of impending emergencies.

Those calls wouldn’t be limited to tornadoes, but could also be used to announce Amber Alerts, gas leaks and chlorine leaks.

“If we can save that money and still have a better system, let’s take our time on that,” Goodnight said.

He couldn’t have foreseen the length of time it actually took.

The Howard County commissioners Monday signed a contract for a mass notification system. The technology provider, Everbridge, will send messages to county residents through a variety of ways, including home telephones, cellular devices, email addresses or faxes.

The intent is to have the system in place before the severe weather season this spring. The cost is $25,000 the first year and $23,000 for the second and third year, with an option for two additional years at $23,000.

We applaud the commissioners, Emergency Management Agency director Larry Smith and dispatch center administrator Nick Capozzoli for continuing to investigate such a system, and urge Howard County residents, particularly after Sunday’s storm that ripped through the city, to inventory their own family’s disaster readiness.

Consider buying a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio, capable of picking up direct broadcasts from the National Weather Service. Such broadcasts provide official storm warnings and watches — as well as general weather information — 24 hours a day.

They cost no more than $80 a piece. Like the county’s new emergency notification system, it’s money well spent.

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