Monday September 10, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Pittsfield is debuting a messaging system to alert residents in the event of an emergency.

CodeRED, a Web-based system provided by Emergency Communications Network, is rolling out this month. Once the system is in place, phone, text and email messages can be sent to thousands of citizens in minutes, targeting specific areas of Pittsfield or the entire city.

"There are a few times every year when it is in everyone's best interest to get important emergency information," said Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi. "This system uses leading-edge technology that will help keep our community safer."

Citywide calls are only activated in the event of a serious weather or other emergency. Targeted messages can let residents in a neighborhood know of missing children, road closures, hydrant flushing, mosquito spraying and other news that is specific to them.

All residents with public phone numbers will be called in the event of a serious emergency, but residents can opt out of receiving non-emergency calls that are specific to their neighborhood.

The system costs $15,375 to install, with yearly costs at approximately $5,000.

CodeRED has already downloaded publicly available Pittsfield phone numbers. Residents have the option of adding their cellphones to the database and their email addresses so that they can control how they receive important emergency information.

City officials said that one of the reasons the CodeRED system was selected is because it gives individuals and businesses the ability to add their own phone numbers directly into the system's database.

Pittsfield residents who would like to add cell phone numbers or email addresses to the CodeRED system can do so by going to either the City of Pittsfield website at www.cityofpittsfield.org, or the Pittsfield Police Department's website at www.pittsfieldpd.org.

City officials will be on hand at Third Thursday on Sept. 20 to input information for residents who do not have access to the Internet. In addition, paper forms will be available at City Hall, the Police Department, the Berkshire Athenaeum and all Fire Stations so that residents can fill out information they would like included in the CodeRED system.