NORTH ROYALTON – City officials will switch out the current, fee-based reverse 911 system for a new one through the county. It will do exactly the same thing, but it is free.

City Council agreed to enter a memorandum of understanding with the Cuyahoga County Office of Emergency Management to allow the use of its ReadyNotify reverse 911 system and will abandon the Swift911 Notification System soon. The county purchased this new, mass notification system recently and is offering it to all municipalities free of charge.

Safety Director Bruce Campbell said it was too good to pass up.

“It will do the exact same thing, except it’s free. We are paying for the service we have now, so this will be a substantial savings. Typically, we spend $6,000 for the base fee, but we have to pay for the minutes on top of that, so we are spending between $6,000 and $10,000 a year,” he explained.

ReadyNotify will be used to issue emergency notifications to both residents and businesses. These notifications can include emergency events, safety messages, water boil alerts and non-emergency alerts.

Aside from emergencies, the city will also be able to notify a specific ward or area about such things as fire hydrant flushings, as it does currently, or broadcast news about an upcoming community event such as the annual Community Festival.

Because it is through the county, it will also include county-related government news and building closures.

North Royalton has purchased a phone list from AT&T in an effort to include as many residents as possible, but residents are still encouraged to visit the city’s website northroyalton.org, which will have a registration link up soon to sign up for messages that can be received via text message, email, cellphone, home phone, work phone or fax. Residents can customize how they want to receive these alerts.

According to the county’s website, a valid email and phone number is required to register. During the registration process, residents will also be asked information pertaining to their address, primary language and whether or not they require any special assistance during an emergency event. Only information indicated with a star symbol is required.

Once up and running, it is expected to be a seamless transition, Campbell said.

City officials will likely send out a final message through Swift911 encouraging residents to switch over and register on ReadyNotify.

Royalton is not the only local community making the switch.

The Southwest Emergency Dispatch Center and all four of its member municipalities – Strongsville, Berea, Olmsted Falls and North Royalton – have opted to go with this new system.

North Royalton made it official at the May 19 council meeting after discussing it first in the safety committee.

Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw, who chairs safety, said not only does it save money, but it creates uniformity, which appeals to him.

“I like that we can save money, but most importantly, we get a much better service from the county and uniformity with our regional dispatch center to help expedite mass emergency notifications. This is another great resource that our safety forces have in their tool belt to use,” he said.

Ward 5 Councilman Steve Muller, vice chair of safety, echoed Langshaw.

“We are currently paying for Swift, so when we switch over, it is supposed to be at no cost through the county, so that’s the biggest item. And, all the cities in the county should be utilizing it in the future across the board, so if there ever was a county-wide event, information will be coming from a centralized location so everyone will be getting the same information,” he said.

There are other mediums available to residents to receive city information.

Residents may sign up to receive the city’s e-newsletter on the city website and both the police and fire departments have Facebook pages and are on Twitter.

The city also recently began utilizing Nixle, which is very similar to a reverse 911 system except that it pertains primarily to the police department. Aside from emergency alerts and advisories, it can send photos alongside alerts.

For example, it can notify residents that a child has gone missing and send a picture of him or her, and during bank robberies, a photo can be sent out to residents of the suspect. That service is also free.

To sign up for ReadyNotify or Nixle, visit northroyalton.org/en-US/Police-Department.aspx.

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