A new mass communication system might provide emergency information more easily for Burns Lake residents who don’t use social media or the internet.
At its Nov. 12 meeting, the village council agreed to send a letter to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) expressing interest in the Voyent Alert system.
“We see it as a better way of communicating, especially in emergency situations. If we have a water line down on 5th Ave. we can let everyone know in the area who is affected by that. Whereas if we post it on Facebook people might not see it until they get to work,” said Sheryl Worthing, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) with the village.
Voyent Alert sends out messages via landline, cellular phone, text, email, on social media and through its own app.
The system distributes messages on a range of occurrences including natural disasters like wildfires and floods to more minor ones like local notices on snow removal or garbage day changes.
Messages are sent out only to those residents who subscribe to the service and recipients can choose what type of notices they want to receive, how they want to receive them and for which areas they want to know about.
For example, residents could choose to receive only evacuation alerts, or to get only information for a specific area about snow removal.
Voyent Alert can also include recipient acknowledgement surveys, which can be used during emergencies to determine who might need assistance evacuating, who has already evacuated and who doesn’t plan to evacuate.
The regional districts of East Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary – among others – have already joined the system.
Other municipalities in the RDBN are interested in Voyent Alert but it was too early to say how much it might cost if the RDBN decides to buy it, said CAO Curtis Helgesen.