Starting today, NotifyNYC, New York City’s emergency alert system, will cover the entire Big Apple. Notify NYC was first launched on a limited basis in December 2007, offering participants in four pilot areas of the City the ability to register for alerts and notifications about significant events in their communities. Notify NYC services are available by email, text message and voice message to home, office and cellular telephones.
Edward Skyler, the Deputy Mayor who oversees NotifyNYC, kicked off the program’s citywide launch at the Office of Emergency Management’s(OEM) headquarters in downtown Brooklyn this afternoon. In an interview, Skyler pointed to last month’s incident when a 747 aircraft and two fighter jets flew over lower Manhattan scaring many area residents as an example of the value of these alerts. In that instance, the U.S. Department of Defense did not tell City officials who therefore were not able to send out a warning through NotifyNYC until afterwards. However, a couple weeks later during another scheduled flyover NotifyNYC did have the info beforehand and did send out an alert.
Public Warning Specialist Rion LoBrutto (above) oversees NYCNotify alerts today in the Emergency Operations Center of New York City’s Office of Emergency Management.
Subscribers to Notify NYC will receive these alerts, which provide information about the most severe emergency events, such as AMBER Alerts and natural disasters, in whatever distribution method they choose. Users will also have the option of registering for Significant Event Notifications, which provide informational advisories about less-severe emergency events which may still cause disruptions on a localized basis. Examples of less-severe events are brush fires, extended disruptions of mass transit services and major utility outages affecting water, power and telecommunications. The City will work with utility providers when major outages occur, and provide the public with updates about how and when services will be restored. Another optional category will be Public Health Notifications. Those interested in registering for NotifyNYC alerts (which are free) or learning more information about the program can go to www.notifynyc.gov.
The citywide program will also offer non-emergency advisories about unscheduled suspensions of alternate side parking rules and public school closures and delays. Based on feedback from subscribers in the pilot areas, Notify NYC will expand to offer users additional non-emergency information services from a variety of City agencies. Notify NYC messages will be crafted by a team of Public Notification Specialists in OEM’s 24-hour Watch Command. The Public Notification Specialists will coordinate with Operations Centers and field Incident Commanders from the City’s first response agencies to ensure the accuracy of messages. Since the initial four-area pilot program began, OEM has already sent more than 70 emergency notifications and alerts to over 12,800 subscribers. Officials said that so far this morning 1900 new people had registered for the expanded service. Deputy Mayor Skyler said there were plans to expand the alerts into other languages.
Notify NYC is the product of a multi-year initiative to enhance the City’s emergency public communication systems. Under the direction of Deputy Mayor Skyler, the City has upgraded to the Emergency Alert System (EAS), developed by the City’s Emergency Television and Radio (ETVR) briefing sites and implemented the Emergency Public Information Plan (EPIP), which is managed by OEM to improve the coordination of public information during major emergencies. Notify NYC will integrate information and technology services for multiple City agencies, and provide the public with a one-stop destination for emergency and non-emergency notifications.