Alberni-Clayoquot launches new emergency notification system

WatchAlberni-Clayoquot Regional District says it will be able to communicate quicker and clearer with the new emergency notification system. Kendall Hanson has more.

The next time the residents in Alberni-Clayoquot need to be warned of a possible tsunami, or another emergency, the regional district says communication will be better and faster.

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District has become the seventh local government on Vancouver Island to launch Voyent Alert, a cellphone-based emergency notification system.

“The system will allow us to target where we want to send the message so if it’s a wildfire we’re only going to notify the people that need to be notified. We can send updates as new information comes available,” said Heather Zenner, the regional district’s protective services manager.

It became apparent that a better emergency notification system was needed after a tsunami alert in January 2018, according to the regional district.

Many in the community complained that the warning system wasn’t used soon enough, sounded nearly two hours after the original tsunami alert was issued. Others felt the words were muffled and difficult to hear.

The Voyent alert system, according to the district, will speed up messaging and help avoid situations like traffic jams.

“Voyent Alert will allow us from the emergency operations centre to send notifications to the public as soon as we can get organized and send out notifications,” said Zenner.

The Regional District of Nanaimo [RDN] launched the system this past fall but it says just nine per cent of people in the region have signed up so far.

It’s already put the system into use because of a flooding event on Jan. 2 when it notified Parksville and Cedar residents of an evacuation alert.

“I think it’s just another tool in the toolbox for pushing out information to people whether it’s just a public alert or more importantly in those emergency situations,” said Tyler Brown, chair of the Nanaimo Regional District.

Both governments say an advantage of the system is people can sign up for notifications for two areas such and your home and your child’s school.

Officials are urging people to sign up for the system in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District and the Regional District of Nanaimo.

The other Vancouver Island local governments with Voyent Alert are the Township of Esquimalt, City of Nanaimo, the City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach and the District of Tofino.

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Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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