DeltAlert system now operational

Published 11:06 am Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WINTON – Should a major emergency occur within Hertford County’s borders, local citizens will now be notified immediately.

The DeltAlert system, approved by county officials in December, is now activated. Hertford County Emergency Management Director Chris Smith said alerts will be sent to county residents for severe weather-related events, natural disasters, chemical leaks/spills, terrorist threats, etc. It can also be used to broadcast an Amber Alert (missing child).

“We will use the system for events that threaten public health and safety,” Smith said.

Smith’s office has already built a database of Hertford County residents currently using landline telephones. The alert messages will be sent to those phones.

However, county residents without landline telephones can sign-up to have alerts sent to a cell phone or by e-mail to a computer.

“They will have the option to choose cell, text or email and should list in the order they prefer to be notified. It requires the person a couple of minutes to register and does not cost anything to do so,” Smith said.

Those wishing to use these options are urged to visit and click on the DeltAlert link in the bottom left—hand corner of the home page. That will take you to the Hertford County Citizens Opt-In page where they can add their personal contact information such as cell phone, text and email.

Smith noted that even if county citizens are listed in the regular landline database (one built through Hertford County 9-1-1), they can choose to add the option of cell phone, text and/or e-mail alerts.

“The landline contact will not change,” Smith stressed. “You will still be contacted at home in the event of an emergency situation; the other options just add to the way you choose to be notified.”

Another key element of the DeltAlert system is it can be localized. Smith said each emergency dispatch center in the county (Hertford County Sheriff’s Office, Ahoskie Police Department and the Murfreesboro Police Department) can use the system to create messages for emergency notification.

“If there’s an extreme emergency occurring in Ahoskie or Murfreesboro that doesn’t affect the entire county, then only those with contact information for either of those two towns will be notified,” Smith said.

He added that once information is received concerning an emergency that warrants public notification, those alerts are sent out within minutes.

“I am excited to have this new product in our county and available to our citizens. I feel this was a huge step for Hertford County and shows how important we feel it is to notify our citizens in the event an emergency message needs to be delivered,” Smith concluded.

The Hertford County Board of Commissioners approved a three-year, $14,995 contract with DeltAlert at their Dec. 20 meeting.

Using an internet-based program, DeltAlert can send out mass information by land line telephone, cell phone, text message or e-mail. That information is generated by the user (the county) by uploading a custom audio file; recording a message via telephone; or using DeltAlert’s text-to-speech feature to generate a realistic voice message.

According to the contract, the county has 150,000 minutes annually to deliver emergency notifications to its citizens. Unused minutes can roll over to the following year. If the county exceeds its annual allotment of minutes, DeltAlert charges six cents per message.

The county can use its share of the E-911 surcharge funds to pay for the service. Those funds are earmarked for new purchases or upgrades to emergency response systems.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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