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CITY OF LINCOLN   •   NEWS RELEASE   •   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date:
February 6, 2003
For More Information Contact:
Terry Lowe, Information Services, 441-7113
Mark Bowen, Mayor’s Office, 441-7511

LINCOLN TO BE AMONG FIRST IN NATION TO OFFER
NEW PERSONAL COMPUTER BASED EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM

Mayor Don Wesely today unveiled Lincoln-Lancaster County’s new personal computer (PC) based emergency alert system that will improve public notification of local, state and national emergency warnings.

“This is a live instantaneous notification that computer users will receive within seconds after the emergency is declared,” said systems project manager Terry Lowe of the City’s Information Services Division.

The personal computer based emergency alert system will provide rapid notification of severe weather, state Amber Alerts for missing children and emergencies issued through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or other state or local officials. The system will also send instant alerts to palm devices and cell phones capable of web connections.

“This system is much more than an extension of the emergency weather warning system,” said Mayor Wesely. “It will greatly improve the speed of notifying people about missing children, local emergencies and terrorist or other national emergencies such as the government alerts issued on September 11, 2001. This is part of the next generation of the emergency public warning system and takes early warning to a much higher level.”

The system will sit idle in a personal computer until an alert is issued. When an emergency is declared, it will sound a warning through the PC, followed by a pop-up screen explaining the type of emergency. The user can reduce the screen after receiving the alert, but updated information will scroll across the bottom of the screen.

The system will carry emergency alerts issued by the President, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and National Weather Service; emergencies declared by the Governor; Amber Alerts issued by the State for missing children; and local emergencies declared by the County Emergency Management Service, Mayor, Police Department, Fire Department, County Sheriff, or City- County Health Department.

“The Police Department could use the system if it needs to issue an all points bulletin for a suspect in a bank robbery that just occurred,” Wesely said. “The County Emergency Management Office could issue an alert on a flash flood or other natural emergency. An alert could be issued locally in the event of a severe hazardous material spill. This system is a wise and valuable new tool, using technology to protect the safety of the citizens.”

To complete the testing of the service, the system will be phased in beginning with the Police Department, Fire Department, County Sheriff, 911 Center, Health Department and Emergency Management Center. The system will then be available to all City and County government-owned personal computers. The alert system will then be offered to the Lincoln Public Schools, area hospitals and public and private safety coordinators, such as those at the area universities and colleges and the general public through the City-County web site.

View the News Conference 2-6-03

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