What happens when you have an emergency in your community? How do you reach out to your residents? How do you let them know what’s happening, what they should do or what you are doing?
A Town Web municipal website is a great way to connect with your residents. Our Communication Platform is an easy-to-use, efficient way to reach your residents whenever you need, but especially in an emergency.
Consider the following scenarios:
- COVID-19 news and information
- Severe storms with high winds cause extensive damage in your community. Power lines are down, roads are blocked by trees and homes are damaged.
- Spring snow melt and steady rain cause streams and river levels to rise, and flooding is reported in your community. A bridge is closed and some roads are washed out.
- A major crash on a nearby highway is causing traffic to be diverted on normally quiet roads in your community.
- An explosion and fire at a manufacturing business in your community has shut down streets and caused evacuations of nearby homes.
- A long-time festival in your community will be held in a new location this year. Parking will be off-site with buses taking visitors to the festival grounds.
How would you let your residents know about those situations and your response to them?
You can put something on your website, but will residents know to look there for it? If you have a Facebook page, you can post it there, too. But Facebook doesn’t show every post to every person who “likes” or “follows” a page, so you can’t be sure your residents will see your information.
Town Web’s Communication Platform can provide a solution for you.
Communication Platform notifications
When you choose a Town Web municipal website, you have access to our Communication Platform. You can post standard municipal information as well as News & Notices and Emergency Alerts.
Our Communication Platform allows your residents to subscribe to notifications from your website. Website users have the opportunity to sign up to receive instant notifications any time you publish something they wish to read.
While these notifications often are focused on regular municipal business and standard notices for residents, you can use it for Emergency Alerts, too. It is an easy way to get your news out to residents quickly.
Residents can choose which types of alerts they wish to receive when they sign up. Some residents will choose to receive notification for agendas and meeting minutes. Others may wish to receive New & Notices to learn about holiday hours, service changes, upcoming events or activities. If you also offer an Emergency Alerts category, residents can choose to receive instant notifications if or when you post an Emergency Alert.
Subscribers who sign up provide their name, address, city, email and cellphone number. They can choose to receive text messages, emails or both from your municipality.
Send Emergency Alerts to subscribers
Consider the scenarios we suggested. Wouldn’t it be great to reach all of your subscribers by text or email with an immediate notice of what they should do, how you are responding and how to learn more, get help or help others?
You can use the Emergency Alert option to continue to update a situation as things change. Each time you post a new update, your subscribers will be alerted, as well. This keeps everyone up-to-date with the best information available at the time.
Letting residents know what’s happening is important to keeping them calm, safe and not creating a situation that’s worse.
Think about closed roads after storms or flooding. You don’t want residents putting themselves in danger if they don’t know a road is closed or damaged. Help them choose an alternate route or encourage them to avoid certain areas until it can be cleared or repaired.
Additionally, by providing Emergency Alerts to subscribers directly, you are limiting the possibility of misinformation being spread or shared. If everyone gets the same message, there is less chance for it to be wrong. We all have witnessed how stories can change and grow and misinformation can occur when people talk, exaggerate, mishear or simply get it wrong. When you provide the information first-hand, it will help your residents know it’s trustworthy.
No-cost alternative to Nixle
Some counties, cities and emergency service providers use Nixle, an online service that allows them to reach out quickly to subscribers by text, email and social media. This is a paid service, however, and there is a cost to the communities, agencies and businesses that use it.
Town Web’s Communication Platform can serve a similar purpose for your municipality, at no additional cost. The Communication Platform is a basic part of your website. There is no charge to you and no charge to your residents who subscribe.
Using the Communication Platform is easy for standard posts and Emergency Alerts. You post a document or article to your website. It will show up on your home page and immediately be sent to your subscribers who choose to receive it.
Additionally, your Emergency Alert will be posted to your Facebook page, if you have one. You don’t need to do anything extra or take any extra steps or time to post it to that social media account. We have automated that posting for you as part of the Communication Platform.
Posting is easy and takes less than a minute. Our system was designed to be easy to use. However, if you want or need us to post something for you, you can email or message us on Facebook, and we will take care of posting your municipal agendas, minutes, News & Notices and Emergency Alerts. As soon as they are posted, the system automatically alerts your subscribers.
Your residents who subscribe will get an instant notification with brief information and a link to read more or see a document on your website.
You never know when an emergency will happen, so it’s important to be prepared. As you make plans for possible problems that can arise in your community, remember that a Town Web website is a helpful tool to reach your residents quickly with accurate information.