City, county launch new emergency alert system

htrenda@charlotteobserver.comDecember 4, 2013 

  • Sign up To register for the CharMeck Alerts notification system, go to www.charmeckalerts.org. Those without an email address can call 311. Residents can chose which type of notifications to receive and whether they want geo-specific information or county-wide alerts. The free service does not share personal information, and the system will be maintained by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office.

Does CharMeck alert you?

That’s the slogan city and county officials are using to promote the new emergency mass notification system, CharMeck Alerts, which officially launched Wednesday.

Unlike previous emergency notification systems – which typically used reverse 911 calls that often went to landlines – CharMeck Alerts sends real-time alerts to a user’s home, work or cell phones, by text message, email or through social media, according to officials.

During the system’s Wednesday morning kickoff, officials with the city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, emergency services and the six incorporated towns said they plan to air three public service announcements and host a number of community events around the city and county to educate residents and encourage them to register.

CharMeck Alerts is the same system that was used to notify the public during the Boston Marathon bombing, the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, officials said.

Users decide what type of alerts they’d like to receive – emergency and nonemergency, among others – for up to five locations or for all of Mecklenburg County. Those with special needs or disabilities can also select options such as transportation assistance in the event of an emergency in their area.

With the county’s six townships also on board, officials said users can get real-time notifications about emergencies that could affect their home or workplace. Users can be alerted about events in the areas where their kids go to school or daycare.

Severe weather, police or fire emergencies, missing persons and hazardous material situations were a few examples officials provided for the types of emergency alerts users can opt to receive. Local governments can use the system to get important information to employees or alert residents about nonemergencies including traffic events and road closures.

The city of Charlotte will use $243,000 in grant money to pay for the first year of use for the entire county, at no cost to the six townships, officials said. For each of the following years in the five-year contract, the annual cost of $219,000 will likely be split among the local governments.

Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda

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