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Failure of communication systems is every city’s nightmare. When West University Place faced notification issues during a 2016 active shooter situation right outside its borders, officials began looking for a better, more dependable system. On February 1, West U made the switch from CodeRed to Swift911.
SwfitReach, the parent company, is a high speed emergency network system that alerts residents to situations ranging from severe weather to road closures, gas leaks to active shootings. Emergency Management Coordinator/ Fire Chief Aaron Taylor hopes to use Swift911 to keep residents informed on events that may impact them during their daily activities.
“Swift911 has the capacity to deliver information though land lines, cell phones, text messages and social media,” he said. “Swift911 starts with a publicly available list of phone numbers that can be removed or updated by residents and businesses. We encourage all residents to update the public numbers with additional phone numbers and email addresses of family members to ensure that West U residents stay abreast of need-to-know info in their preferred manner of communication.”
Residents can elect to receive messages by registering with the Swift911 web portal located on the city’s website. They may also register using the Swift911 Public App which can be downloaded on their smartphones. Once registered, users may log into both the public app portal and website portal at any time to update contact information and add/remove users or contact numbers and email addresses.
“Customer service is a priority of West U. When we experienced the previous failure, we heard from many residents,” continued Taylor. “We assured the public, City Manager Chris Peifer and the City Council that we would research and investigate until we found what we felt was the best service available for our residents. After investigating five programs, testing the ease of use, comparing the availability of services, talking to current users, we decided that Swift911 had the service components we wanted to better serve our residents.”
Beginning February 1, current users of Code RED will receive messages from the City explaining how to make the transition to the new Swift911 system. Available methods are:
--- texting SWIFT911 to 99538 . A link to download the public app for your smartphone will be sent. After downloading, you may register and set up your service.
--- log into the city’s website at http://westutx.gov and click on the notifications’ button. You can then register for not only the new Swift911 service but also sign up for other notifications from the City.
--- log into the city’s website at http://westutx.gov and click on the slideshow Swift911 photograph. You can then register for not only the new Swift911 service but also sign up for other notifications from the City.
Taylor reminds residents that if they have numbers available on public lists, that they will receive any notices sent out on emergencies. “Most of those numbers are land line numbers and not cell phones,” he continued. “We know many people have given up land lines for the ease and portability of cells. If you no longer have those numbers, you may miss out after we discontinue Code RED and move exclusively to Swift911 on March 1. If you want to begin…or continue.. to receive emergency messages from the City of West U, you can guarantee that by registering in the new Swift911 system. Please take a few minutes to complete the registration, adding all the numbers and email addresses for your family. Peace of mind will only take a few minutes.”
For more information about this new system or to complete registration, please call 713.662.5826.