Do we need new auto-alert system? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Do we need new auto-alert system?

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City Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard City Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard

Albany city leaders want to try out a new alert system to warn you about crime in your neighborhood.

The city would have to pay for it-- even though two other alert systems are already in place. Supporters of the new project say it's worth it because the other systems don't go far enough.

The additional CodeRED alerts would let you know about a break in down the block or that West Nile had been found in your neighborhood. Albany Police already have a service that does that free, and eventually the new 911 system will do the same, but until then some feel more needs to be done.

Crime. It's the main problem mayoral candidate and City Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard hears about when she's talking with people throughout city.

 "Crime is our number one issue, we have to do something about the crime, police presence is important why aren't we seeing the police?" said Hubbard.

When we asked citizens if they wanted to be alerted to every crime event in their neighborhood by phone the reaction was mixed.

 "It would help prevent crime, I think I think it would be beneficial to all of the citizens to know when crime happened,"  said Albany Resident Thomas Searles.

"I think because it happens so often, it would maybe be too much," said Tiffany McVay.

Albany's city manager realizes there's a fine line, that's why the newest proposal to expand the city's Code Red Weather alert to include crime or other community alerts is a trial.

"If you abuse it then citizens stop listening to it, it becomes something of no value so we want to be selective of the things we put on it," said James Taylor.

Right now, the city and county's current 911 system is unable to do the work, that will change when it's updated in a year. When we questioned why another system, when the city police department already uses a system called Nixle for free we were told is doesn't go far enough.

It will only alert cell phone users and those with email. While most homes today have a computer, and many have disconnected land lines for cell phones, they claim most older adults don't have cell phones.

 "A lot of us seniors don't have cell phones, or if we do we don't have them with us all the time," said Hubbard.

The city does have another system called city watch, which made calls to check on older residents home phones but leaders say it's unreliable.

"The hardware is very, very old if it breaks we don't know how to get it fixed so we didn't want to start a program and have it fail because a component of it didn't work," said Taylor.

The trial will cost an additional $12,650 the city doesn't pay now to add the service, but it's money Hubbard and the city manager feel could be well spent.

 "If we have a community where folks are breaking in because people are leaving their cars unlocked then we will send out notice, and remind people be sure and lock their car don't leave things on the front seat those kinds of things that's how communities have sued them that we checked on," Taylor said.

All in an effort to put the citizens on notice to criminals in their neighborhoods.

We're told 33,000 people are registered for CodeRED, but they can't tell me how many are registered with land lines and how many are registered with cell phones.

City leaders estimate even if they sent out three alerts a day to 100 users, they wouldn't come close to using the 100,000 minutes they'd pay for with the system addition.

 

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