Oregon Council on Monday will consider approving a contract with One Call Now that includes a GIS mapping system that would allow the city to notify the public of emergencies or events.
The system is used by Wood County, Northwood, Millbury, Walbridge, Lake Township, the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, and Rossford.
Michael Scott, from One Call Now, presented the package at an Oregon committee of the whole meeting last Monday. Council agreed to put it on its agenda for the next Oregon council meeting.
Scott said One Call Now is an emergency call out telephonic system.
“There’s two basic sides to the product: a map based system, and a roster based system. Essentially, this is used for emergencies and non-emergencies. The map based system is there in case you need to call a particular portion of the system. For example, if you have a water boil emergency, a road closure, or a chemical spill that doesn’t involve the entire city, you’ll be able to go to that map based system, draw the area you want to contact, and it’s going to contact everyone within that particular area…via telephone,” explained Scott.
“We can make about 12,000 calls per minute, so this is a very quick system. As a matter of fact, we probably won’t call that quickly just from the standpoint we don’t want to overwhelm your telephone system here within the city. We do some studies prior to determining how quickly those calls need to go out. But rest assured, we’ll put those calls out as quickly as possible,” he said.
“On the roster based side, you’ll actually have room for up to 99 different call lists that you can put out onto the system. That’s used for different city departments you may want to get a hold of. For example, there may be a listing in there of all the council people, with their phone numbers. We make it easier if the mayor needs to get a hold of you about an upcoming meeting or something that’s happening within the community. He can just simply go out there, pick up the phone, make that phone call, leave the message, and be able to contact you all with that same message. That’s real important for a lot of different reasons, especially when we get into fire and police. You’re going to be able to have a listing out there possibly for all your command officers, for both fire and police. You can combine those, all your police officers and fire officers, in case you have an all hands on decks situation where you need to get a hold of everyone. Also, you can use it for your recreation department. For example, you could have all the coaches within the different leagues you have here notifying them of weather advisories. So there’s all different aspects to this,” said Scott.
The system, which would cost 0.85 per household per year, can also be used by the water division to notify the public of water boil advisories, he said.
A service that would be a 25 percent additional charge is the WeatherBug, which would notify the public of weather warnings, said Scott.
Scott, who is also a Rossford City Councilman, said One Call Now has been in business for nine years.
“I’m actually excited about the opportunity for helping to communicate primarily in emergency situations on a water boil HAZMAT issue,” said Administrator Mike Beazley. “It’s been a problem I’ve dealt with in other roles I’ve been in: `How do we get notice out quickly to the individuals that are involved?’ This is something I’ve been aware of other communities. I was pleased to see Oregon exploring it. It allows us to do a better job, maximize our opportunity to protect our residents.”
Councilman Jerry Peach said council will have to rely on the administration to “choose wisely the uses to which this is put, particularly, especially, in non-emergency situations.”
“I myself, at one time, when my home telephone number was not published in the Toledo directory without charge, paid to have my number put in so people would know what my number was in case they needed to call me as a councilman. On the other hand, I am also on the Do Not Call list. I think many people, and I’m one of them, have a real aversion to getting marketing calls, non-essential calls, and avoid them like the plague. I would not wish them to avoid phone calls from the city of Oregon for similar reasons,” said Peach.
“It’s a tough call. We have to make sure we don’t abuse it and start letting people know about everything the city’s doing. We have to use some discretion about it. And the public is going to be a little tired of hearing from us, if we overstep that. So having the tool is useful. Making sure we don’t go too far with it will be a challenge,” said Beazley.
Scott said residents have the opportunity to opt out of the system.
“We recommend they don’t,” said Scott. “We ask that they talk to someone with the city before they do that so they understand they won’t get any emergency notifications.”