Butler County could soon have a system in place to notify residents in the event of an emergency.
Butler County Emergency Services Director Steve Bicehouse says a county-based mass notification system is something his office has been hoping to get for a long time.
“We’ve been thinking about this for awhile,” Bicehouse told the Butler County commissioners during an agenda-setting meeting on Wednesday.
The alerts would detail weather-related events, road closures, 911 outages..among other things. The technology would allow the county to send alerts to all resident county-wide, or only to residents in a certain area.
Bicehouse says there are some 50 companies that produce this sort of technology. The county is currently interested in partnering with OnSolve for the service. The system would cost about $12,000 to get up and running.
There are two ways to run the system: either have people “opt-in” to receive the alerts, or automatically upload home phone numbers via a Century Link database and then give people the option to “opt-out.”
Bicehouse had some concerns with automatically uploading numbers.
“People like their privacy,” he said. “When you automatically sign them up, they liken it to a telemarketer call.”
Butler County Commissioner Leslie Osche agreed, but also voiced a concern of paying thousands for a service, and then not having people sign up.
“If you invest that much money in something…what if people don’t register?” Osche asked during a meeting Wednesday.
Bicehouse said the county would do a widespread campaign informing people of the service and telling them how to sign up.
“Lawrence County did it that way, and they had great success,” he said. “It’s very simple to sign up.”
Commissioner Kim Geyer said several, if not all, of the school districts in the county have enlisted a mass notification system, and it’s gone over very well.
“Everybody wants to be on it,” she said.
The Butler County commissioners will consider the agreement and vote next week.
“We would only use the system for emergency situations,” Bicehouse assured. “We don’t want people to get immune to it.”