Register for the new Alert Solano

Solano County officials want “everyone who lives, works, plays or travels through” the county to sign up for its new emergency alert system, spokesman Matthew Davis said.

Solano County, in partnership with its seven cities and Travis Air Force Base, are encouraging everyone to register for the new Alert Solano emergency notification system, which is being rolled out now, he said.

“Alert Solano allows us to send important messages to you through the convenience of your email, cell phone and text messaging, giving us the ability to let you know about incidents and emergencies that may affect you — as they happen,” said Don Ryan, Solano County’s emergency services manager.

In the event of an emergency, public safety officials, including the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, local police and fire officials, can send out a message about a potential safety hazard or concern, including severe weather alerts, road closures and natural disasters directly to those who have registered for Alert Solano.

“The success of Alert Solano relies on you,” Ryan said. “Having your latest contact information is the best way public safety officials can reach you directly in an emergency.”

The Alert Solano emergency notification system allows users to provide customized information to allow the most efficient delivery of emergency information. Users are encouraged to register multiple devices, including cell phones, smart phones and tablets. Alerts can be sent to all devices listed in the Alert Solano account, maximizing the chances of alerting users in a timely manner, officials said.

The main difference between this new system and the ones used by the county and cities before, besides the efficiency of coordination, is the flexibility afforded subscribers, said Kevin Ives, emergency services technician, Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services.

“The Sheriff’s office, and Vacaville had (another, more limited system,)” he said. “Benicia has been using this new one for several years, and we were able to leverage their contract with them for favorable terms. Vallejo had (a system,) but also called the county to make notifications.”

The old systems made strictly voice notifications, whereas Alert Solano allows subscribers to select voice, or text or email alerts, he said. Also, the old one wasn’t’ available for all the cities; Suisun, Rio Vista, and Dixon, for instance, couldn’t use it themselves and had to rely on the Sheriff’s Department.

Alert Solano can make 100,000 calls at once, and, it has “IPAWS,” like an Amber Alert, which can send a text to cell phones in a certain area — like if there’s a hazmat incident and you are going in that direction, or if you have no land line, it can alert you.”

Alert Solano is active, though there is an official public release planned for June 4, he said, adding that there’s already been a “soft launch” to County employees and others and dispatcher training is already complete.

Ives said Alert Solano is “about twice as expensive as the old system, but there’s a three-year federal grant funding it now. He said it is believed the system will actually save the cities and county money in the long run by consolidating, creating “more efficiency in spending.”

A new grant will be applied for when the current one nears its end, and, failing that, officials will consider a cost-sharing arrangement with the cities, if the thing is working as well as hoped, he said.

A land line will work for notifications, but a computer is needed to sign up. Sheriff’s officials will be going around to fairs and senior centers, with computers to help sign people up.

In exchange for opting in, you get alerts whenever there’s an emergency in your area, Ives said.

“We can provide any emergency information when there’s threat to life, property or the environment,” he said. “We can alert you to evacuate, where to evacuate, where shelters are; about missing people, escapees — a wide array of information can be put out. It will continue to get better as we get more people to opt in.”

So far, more than 6,500 have opted in, and the system has more than 100,000 white pages listings it can contact. “Individual cities can also do subscription lists for specific information, like road closures or fairs,” he said. “There’s a lot of versatility to this system, that’s the biggest takeaway.”

Everyone is encouraged to register for Alert Solano through the self-registration portal at www.AlertSolano.com. Participants can register up to five addresses. It is recommended that every person in a household sign up for an account. Once registered, users can update their information online at any time through the Alert Solano portal.

The cities of Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Suisun City, Vacaville and Vallejo, including the unincorporated areas of Solano County, are all participating in the Alert Solano emergency notification system. Solano County respects the privacy of all Alert Solano registrants and will keep all user information confidential. It will never be sold or released for commercial purposes.

For more information call (707) 784-1662 or email AlertSolano@SolanoCounty.com.

Contact Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824.

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