Dane County Executive Falk Introduces “Reverse 911”
February 11, 2005
Lesley Sillaman, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823
Madison – Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today announced the implementation of a “Reverse 911” system that will allow the County to use the 911 Center to notify individuals in a specific geographic area in the event of an emergency, like public health alerts, hazardous materials release or community policing.
The system was fully funded through a $136,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security and has been implemented through the Dane County Emergency Management and Public Safety Communications Departments.
“The ‘Reverse 911’ system will allow us to pro-actively notify individuals in specific communities of emergencies in their area,” said County Executive Falk. “Using this system, we will be able to get important information out to people in a quick, efficient manner, regardless of the time of day or night.”
In the event of an emergency, an operator in the 911 Center can identify the affected region of the County and record a message that describes the situation and the recommended actions residents should take. The system will automatically call all listed telephone numbers at a rate of 80 calls per minute (for a 30-second phone call). The system also has the ability to deliver text messages to TTY/TDD devices to warn and protect citizens who are deaf of hard of hearing.
“A good example of a time when ‘Reverse 911’ could have been used was during the fire at Central Storage on Cottage Grove Road in the early 1990’s,” said Falk. “During that fire, there was the possibility of a chemical leak and at the time, officers drove their cars around a several block radius and used a PA system to notify residents of a shelter location. With ‘Reverse 911’ we can simply record a message that will be called into individuals homes through their telephones.”
The system was initially programmed with only those numbers published in the local White Page directories. Unlisted numbers and cell phone numbers were not included. Residents can register their unlisted or cell phone numbers by filling out the form on the County webpage (www.countyofdane.com) or by calling Dane County Emergency Management at 608-266-4330.