How city leaders are keeping you informed about emergencies in your neighborhood
IDAHO FALLS – Media outlets aren’t the only ones trying to keep you informed when high-profile crimes or emergencies happen.
Local governments also have a role in making you aware of local happenings, including potentially dangerous situations.
Kerry Hammon, public information officer for Idaho Falls, says the city has a system in place for keeping you in the know.
It has three ways of reaching you, depending on the nature of the event. To be notified, you have to sign up to receive those alerts.
The first method is the “Notify Me” feature. Through the city’s website, you can sign up for email alerts about power outages, snow removal, City Council agendas, and news releases from the police department, such as a missing persons report, for example.
“You can pick and choose what types of alerts you want to receive. We will only send you the type of alerts you request,” says Hammon.
The second method is text alerts. Hammon says this method is helpful in getting non-emergency information out as quickly as possible.
“We only reserve text alerts for important notifications — otherwise, people ignore them,” Hammon tells us.
Information sent via text includes things like parking restrictions for snow removal.
To sign up for text alerts, send “ifalerts” to 91011.
The third way information is sent is by phone through Code Red alerts. This method is used jointly by the city and Bonneville county.
“Code Red alerts are the high level emergencies that pertain to specific neighborhoods,” Hammon says. “If we needed to notify people in the Blackhawk subdivision, for example, that they need to evacuate, dispatch can select a parameter to send those messages through.”
This includes incidents such as fires and shootings.
“The tricky part about text alerts and Code Red alerts — if you move away from the area, we don’t know that. You’ll still get notifications unless you unsubscribe to them,” Hammon says.
Hammon says the city and the various departments within Idaho Falls have more than 30 active social media pages across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Rexburg and Madison County send alerts through AlertSense. Madison County 911 Supervisor Cullin Sherman says they use the system for emergencies only.
“We try to be cautious about what we send out. We want to reserve it for when it’s really vital,” Sherman says.
If you live in Madison County, you can sign up to receive alerts by landline, cell phone, text or email by clicking here.
You will only receive alerts through the method you choose. For example, if you only provide an email address, you will receive alerts exclusively through email.
“So, you could potentially receive the same message four times,” Sherman says.
Pocatello uses a similar method to Idaho Falls. If you live in Pocatello, you can sign up for text or email alerts by clicking here.
“For road closures and things like that, we utilize social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Nextdoor,” said Logan McDougall, Pocatello’s public information officer.
NextDoor is a social media app that allows police to communicate with specific neighborhoods where something is happening, and target their communication exclusively to that area. Through the app, people can also communicate with each other, just like they can on any other social media platform.
The Idaho Falls Police Department is working on implementing NextDoor for its department as well. There are more than 2,300 people in the greater Idaho Falls area currently using NextDoor. However, IFPD is not using it yet.
Holly Cook with IFPD says Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper and Police Chief Bryce Johnson are discussing whether to implement NextDoor.