Dec. 18, 2013 — Alerts for weather, Amber Alerts and national security alerts will automatically be sent to mobile phones utilizing Carter County cell towers by the start of the new year, Assistant Emergency Management Director Joanne Dunfee hopes.
Dunfee informed the council Tuesday night the new system she has worked for six months to launch is part of a Memorandum of Agreement between the City of Grayson, Carter County Emergency Management, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Program Management Office.
Dunfee said she still has to test the notification system and work on programming before official implementation, estimating the official kickoff date to be Jan. 1.
The notifications for local alerts will be sent directly by Dunfee via iPad through an online app the council has agree to pay around $200 annually to maintain. The alerts will be free for recipients.
Alerts will not only be available to Carter residents, but also anyone driving within the area whose cellphones feed off towers within the county. Users will be signaled with pop-up notes and specialized ringtones when alerts are sent out.
“We will still be able to communicate alerts using our existing social media and sirens, but this will just be another means of communication for our community,” Dunfee said.
For those afraid the new system will be used as a way of tracking cellphone users’ locations, Dunfee said this will not be the case and it will be used purely for alerts, with some having the customizable option of being turned off, but this does not include federally emitted notes.
Dunfee said the alerted area might overlap into parts of Boyd County in close proximity to Carter.
Emergency Management Director Roger Dunfee brought a different issue to light during the meeting, raising strong concerns for the city’s 911 dispatchers and their governing board headed by the Carter County Fiscal Court.