2009-05-29 / Top Stories

Notify NYC Goes Citywide

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, and Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno announced that Notify NYC, the City's public notification program, will expand citywide on May 28. Notify NYC services are available by email, text message and voice message to home, office and cellular telephones. Residents in all five boroughs will now be able to register multiple email addresses, text message accounts and phone numbers to receive Notify NYC advisories about events in up to five zip codes. Alerts sent through Notify NYC will also be posted at www.nyc. gov and distributed to call takers at 311 and 911 to ensure that information the City provides is accurate, timely and consistent. New Yorkers who participated in the pilot program will automatically receive a message on May 28 reminding them to enroll in the expanded Notify NYC, New Yorkers who want to pre-register for Notify NYC before the May 28 expansion can do so at www.nyc.gov. The Mayor and the Speaker were joined at the announcement by Council Members Gale Brewer, Alan Gerson, Eric Ulrich, James Vacca, and Peter Vallone, Jr.

"Starting on May 28 anyone will be able to sign up for neighborhood-specific emergency alerts on their cell phone, email, or home landline," said

Mayor Bloomberg. "You can be just about anywhere and receive instantaneous information about events of concern in your community, or any other area of the City. Many New Yorkers have this technology in their pockets, and I'm glad that their government can now supply them with timely emergency information."

"One of the most basic ways we can make government more effective is to utilize every method at our disposal to get information out to New Yorkers during an emergency," said Quinn. "Whether we're talking about power outages or other emergency situations, Notify NYC will allow people to make the best decision based on up to the minute alerts."

Participants in Notify NYC will receive emergency alerts, which provide critical information about the most severe emergency events, such as AMBER Alerts and natural disasters. Subscribers will also have the option of registering for Significant Event Notifications, which provide informational advisories about less-severe emergency events which may still cause disruptions on a localized basis. Examples of less-severe events are brush fires, extended disruptions of mass transit services and major utility outages affecting water, power and telecommunications. The City will work with utility providers when major outages occur, and provide the public with updates about how and when services will be restored. Another optional category will be Public Health Notifications.

The citywide program will also offer non-emergency advisories about unscheduled suspensions of alternate side parking rules and public school closures and delays. Based on feedback from subscribers in the pilot, Notify NYC will expand to offer users additional non-emergency information services from a variety of City agencies. Notify NYC messages will be crafted by a team of Public Notification Specialists in OEM's 24-hour Watch Command. They will coordinate with Operations Centers and field Incident Commanders from the City's first response agencies to ensure the accuracy of messages.

Notify NYC is the product of a multiyear initiative to enhance the City's emergency public communication systems. Under the direction of Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler, the City has upgraded to the Emergency Alert System (EAS), developed by the City's Emergency Television and Radio (ETVR) briefing sites and implemented the Emergency Public Information Plan (EPIP), which is managed by OEM to improve the coordination of public information during major emergencies. Building on the success of 3-1-1 and nyc.gov, Notify NYC will integrate information and technology services for multiple City agencies, and provide the public with a one-stop destination for emergency and non-emergency notifications.

"We are building on the success of our existing pilot program to bring New Yorkers even more services and communication tools," said Skyler. "New Yorkers have asked for this capability, and government is pleased to provide it. To get here, we have performed years of testing and research and development, and have worked with many of our partners in the public and private sector to develop a program plan that responds to the unique challenges New York City presents."

"OEM is the City's clearinghouse for information about emergencies and with the expansion of Notify NYC people in all five boroughs will have access to the information we collect about incidents that affect the neighborhoods where they live and work," said Bruno.

"Notify NYC has become an indispensable part of the Lower Manhattan communications network, providing critical information and reassurance," said Council Member Alan Gerson. "I'm confident that this expansion of the system will do the same for the entire City.

"When a major emergency or service outage strikes, getting reliable, up-tothe minute information out to the public makes a huge difference," said Fire and Criminal Justice Services Chair James Vacca, who served as District Manager of Board 10 for 26 years. "In the year and a half Notify NYC has operated as a pilot program in Bronx Community Board 10, it has been an effective tool for getting the word out about incidents ranging from street closures to severe weather. I encourage all New Yorkers to sign up and I look forward to working with the Administration to promote this service in communities across the City."

"An informed public is a safer public, and today we go a long way towards that," said Public Safety Committee Chair Peter Vallone, Jr.

Notify NYC is a voluntary program. Phone numbers, email addresses and other personal information collected during the registration process will never be used for purposes other than sending Notify NYC messages and will remain confidential. For more information about Notify NYC or to register, visit www.nyc.gov. People who do not have regular access to email or text messaging may also register exclusively for voice alerts to their home, office or cell phones by calling 3-1-1 and using the automated phone registration system.

Notify NYC was first launched on a limited basis in December 2007, offering participants in four pilot areas - Lower Manhattan, the Northeast Bronx, the Rockaways and Southwest Staten Island - the ability to register for alerts and notifications about significant events in their communities. Since the initial four-area pilot program began, OEM has already sent more than 70 emergency notifications and alerts to over 12,800 subscribers. All of the pilot program subscribers will automatically receive a message reminding them to enroll in the new citywide Notify NYC program. While pilot program subscribers will continue to receive messages from Notify NYC up to the May 28 citywide launch, new registrations for the four pilot neighborhoods will close on May 22. There are another 2,500 New Yorkers who don't live in a Notify NYC pilot neighborhood that have already pre-registered for the citywide program. On the May 28 launch day, preregistrants will receive an email taking them through the registration process.

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