Lee launches emergency alert system


Correction: This article has been modified to insert the term "emergency notification system" to replace the trademarked term "Reverse 911."

LEE -- The town is the latest Berkshire community to activate a system to alert residents about emergencies in town.

The emergency notification system will automatically call the 2,600 homes and businesses with public telephone numbers in Lee to alert people to road closures, water main breaks and severe weather situations, according to Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis.

"We will be very judicious in its use," Buffis said. "If activated, it will be an important outreach or emergency message."

The system is similar to emergency call systems launched in Pittsfield and North Adams last September. In addition, more than 20 other Berkshire towns have phone alert capabilities.

Meanwhile, the Lee Police Department has established an online registration process for those also wanting emergency notification via cellphone, email and text.

Town residents and business owners can sign up at https://townofleeportal.bbcportal.com.

Earlier this summer, the town hired Blackboard Connect Inc. of Washington, D.C., to install and maintain the system. The $4,800 project was paid for by a $2,500 grant from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and $2,300 in town funds.

Buffis noted the messaging system can also be used to target specific areas of a community dealing with an emergency situation.

"I can go to a map on the computer and highlight the affected area," he said.

The municipal reverse-dial program will be separate from the one Lee Public Schools began using almost three years ago, also installed and maintained by Blackboard Connect.


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