County launches emergency notification system

Chad Frey
The Kansan

A project announced last year by Harvey County Emergency Management, hampered by COVID-19, has come to fruition. 

Harvey County can now send emergency warnings like these  via text.

The county announced July 6 the launch of an emergency notification system by Everbridge — an online system that can send weather and other alerts to cell phones and other devices. 

“Today we make our decisions based on just-in-time information. We live in a world where current, accurate information is vital for work, home and recreation,” said Harvey County Emergency Management Director Gary Denny. “Accurate and timely information is vital to enhance the safety of our community.”

A similar system is in use by the City of Newton — those who sign up get text messages for weather events, Amber Alerts and other emergencies. The county system will not  replace the system already in place for the city of Newton. 

"Unfortunately, we could not bled them without starting over from scratch," said Erin McDaniel, public information director for the city of Newton. 

Details on the city system can be found at https://www.newtonkansas.com/government/about-the-city/email-and-text-alerts.

At this time, Newton does not appear on the county selection list when setting up an county Everbridge account. 

Harvey County took the lead in creating a notification system for much of south/central Kansas. Counties in the South Central Kansas Regional Notification System include  Barber County, Barton County, Comanche County, Edwards County, Harvey County, Pawnee County, Rice County, Stafford County, and Sumner County

Powered by a company called Everbridge, the system allows the participating jurisdictions  send this information across all types of devices.

, ensuring residents have access to real-time public information when they need it the most. 

Those who sign up will receive time-sensitive messages wherever specified by users —home, mobile or business phones, email address, text messages and others.  The system also allows users to designate what type of warnings they wish to recieve, and block out hours they wish to not be notified. 

Residents can also opt to receive updates from participating municipalities, such as road closures or utility maintenance happening in their city.

The county began looking at a mass notification system in earnest in 2017, with formation of a security group. That group, at the time, found implementation of a system to be cost prohibitive.

In 2018, Harvey County presented the idea to South Central Kansas Homeland Security, which approved funding to help nine counties start up a system, piggybacking on a contract for a system in northeast Kansas.

When announced in 2020, the cost of implementation, which included equipment purchase and training for use of the system, is $120,000 over the course of two years for the nine counties in the system. The contract will have options for three consecutive years.

For more information about Everbridge, as well as a link to sign up for the service, visit www.harveycounty.com/everbridge.