Strathcona Regional District considering emergency notification system

The Strathcona Regional District is investing in an emergency mass notification system

The Strathcona Regional District is investing in an emergency mass notification system.

Shaun Koopman, the regional district’s protective service coordinator, said the corporation has been investigating different systems to find one that will meet the objectives of the emergency preparedness service.

“In the event of an emergency, a tested and proven crisis communication and emergency mass notification system is critical to help ensure safey and well-being of the Strathcona Regional District’s residents and stakeholders,” Koopman said.

He added that staff are seriously considering the Canadian-based Connect Rocket system which allows designated personnel to initiate emergency notifications and provide on demand status updates via text and voice to members of the public who sign up for the notifications.

“This could be done from any web enabled device in a matter of seconds,” Koopman said. “Use of the system would be authorized to protect and save lives of the public and first responders, to reduce suffering, and to protect public health, critical infrastructure and the environment.”

Currently, the regional district has no way of informing the public about emergency situations except through standard media outlets such as the radio or the newspaper, Koopman said.

“The Connect Rocket system would allow the public to bypass these channels and obtain information from the source,” he added. “Although activation of the Connect Rocket system can only be done by an authorized official, residents and visitors to the region would have the ability to gain access to emergency notifications through their computers or mobile devices.

“A public awareness campaign would be employed to promote use of the system as a means of reporting or monitoring the status of emergency situations.”

During an emergency, the Strathcona Regional District’s emergency coordination team would be responsible for managing the mass notification system which involves two components the Connect Rocket and Connect Rocket Community. The latter allows for 300 outbound calls per minute, unlimited users, resident and visitor use, unlimited prepared messages, online training and online administrative support. The system is already being used by several organizations, including the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, the Central Kootenay Regional District, the Comox Valley Regional District, the District of Ucluelet and the City of Victoria.

Connect Rocket, the second component, is designed for internal use, such as dispatching emergency support services volunteers or notifying staff of the various municipalities within the regional district of an emergency operation centre activation.

Connect Rocket operates on a base rate of $50 per month, with rates of $0.04 per minute for voice messages and $0.02 per text.

Connect Rocket Community comes with a $5,000 per year base rate and also charges $0.04 per minute for voice notifications and $0.02 for each text message.