FARMINGTON - A new notification system will use a free app to notify smart phone users of emergencies.
Called "geofencing," the system has been adopted by the Davis County Sheriff’s Office as well as by five other northern Utah counties.
The system can send focused alerts in a range of emergency situations, from flood and snowstorm alerts to hostage situations, said Kyla Natali, spokesperson for Ping4 Inc., based in Nashua, N.H.
“We just concluded training about two weeks ago” with local emergency officials, she said.
Ellis Bruch, Davis County Emergency Services Coordinator, is spearheading the effort locally.
The cost is only $20,000, and that includes all six counties, he said.
Law enforcement or other agencies can send alerts through a web-based browser, signing on to the firm’s portal Natali explained.
Consumers can get the app for free.
She cited several recent cases where the system has been utilized:
· For the tracking down of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, the system zeroed in only on the city of Watertown, Mass., where one suspect was found.
· For Hurricane Sandy, the system was implemented by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
“We can isolate to as small as a street to as large as a particular jurisdiction is,” Natali said.
“It sends messages that are relevant to you, it’s for the citizens they (agencies) need to reach,” she said.
“It gets rid of the cry wolf syndrome, where people are getting too many calls” that often may not apply to them, Bruch said.
Reportedly two-thirds of Americans now own SmartPhones or other mobile devices, making land lines less and less effective as ways to contact people in emergencies, Natali said.
The average person owns four mobile devices, she said.
The system can also be used for such things as parking/crowd control at sporting events, Natali added.
Bruch said some tests have been conducted so far, including targeting only the County Administration Building.
“Given the way our society is moving, no one has a land line anymore,” or fewer and fewer residents, said County Commissioner Bret Millburn.
“But almost everyone has a mobile device,” he said. “It’s (the app and system) the next device in technology. The world we live in today is a world of apps.”