Trouble? 911 Tool Will Ring You Up
The agency that maintains the Texas 911 phone number database is installing a regional system that will be able to call those numbers to alert residents in the case of an emergency. The Capital Area Council of Governments will use a $200,000 federal grant to set up the system serving 10 Central Texas counties.
Austin and Round Rock already have their own separate systems, but will link up to the regional system which allows officers from any of the jurisdiction departments to select a geographical area for targeted messages.
Besides large-scale natural disasters and terrorist attack alerts, the system can be used to alert specific residents of local flooding or a hostage situation in the neighborhood. In 2002, Austin police used their system to ask apartment residents for information concerning a dead baby found nearby.
The regional system will have enough phone lines to contact 144 residents at the same time, but will not be able to call mobile phone numbers. Recorded messages will be played, and if a person does not pick up, the system will leave a message and call back two more times. Burnet County sheriff department communications supervisor Janie Prew says the system will prove useful in cases when there is flooding in the area because there is no other similar public announcement system in the rural county.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Austin American-Statesman (11/27/04) P. B1; Ludwig, Melissa .