LAC LA BICHE - A new alert system to inform Lac La Biche County residents about emergency situations is almost ready to be unveiled.
Municipal spokesperson Alex Fuller says the system will allow registered subscribers to receive an array of messages regarding emergencies, ranging from wide-spread disasters to disruptions of utility services in specific areas of the municipality.
According to the plan's draft form of procedures, emergencies like large fires, dangerous weather, wide-reaching police activity, public health advisories, road closures, utility interruptions and unplanned facility closures could be reasons for the system to be activated.
Currently, the scope of the alerts focus on events that can affect the safety, quality of life and well-being of residents.
"We certainly don't want to overload residents with information," said Fuller, explaining the new alert system as an additional tool to social media, website and the local media channels already used to get important messages to the community. "It is another layer of communication in addition to what we already do."
The system will allow residents to choose how they would like to receive the alerts as well as the type of alerts.
The alert system will automatically send messages to subscribed residents through a combination of phone, email and text. The system will send blanket alerts on matters that affect the region, but can also send unique information to specific areas of the municipality that may be experiencing a localized issue. Who gets a message and how, is determined by the residents' preferences when they sign up for the system. In serious cases, municipal administrators can override the settings to get the alert out to as many residents as possible.
A test of the system is expected to take place in the near future. Fuller said the system will use existing data from the community's 2018 phone directory white pages as baseline contact information.
"This means that, in the event of a severe or life-threatening emergency, a resident may receive a voice call from our alerting system on their landline telephone, even if they do not sign up for any notifications," he said. "This is done so we can ensure we reach everyone who may be affected by a dangerous situation."
The idea behind the test is to inform residents how to register. More details on the system will be available on the Lac La Biche County's website starting Tuesday.
There is no cost to register for the alert system and Fuller says all privacy considerations are in place for any information collected. He expects the system to be in operation by the end of this month or early June.
Superintendent Chris Clark, Lac La Biche County's manager of enforcement services, says the system will be a comprehensive way to carry important messaging to residents.
"The importance of a system like this can't be overstated. It's imperative to help keep our residents safe. In the event of disaster or an active threat to our community, we'll have the ability to easily send information to community members, letting them know what's happening and what they need to do to stay safe."
Municipal officials say the annual cost of the system is approximately $5,000.