The Municipality of Anchorage is switching up how it relays emergency messages to residents.
Beginning in January, the city is changing the vendor it uses for sending direct alerts about weather, public safety and road conditions. Residents who currently receive Nixle alerts will have to opt into the new system, operated by a company called Rave Mobile Safety.
“The switch to Rave Mobile Safety allows residents to receive alerts via phone, text and email, and answer poll questions that will give MOA officials critical information during emergency situations. Individuals who are signed up for alerts will receive reliable information about emergencies, including tailored updates based on their specific needs and geographic location,” said Corey Allen Young, spokesman for Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration.
“We don’t anticipate any operational changes,” said Audrey Gray, emergency programs manager with the municipality, during a brief virtual press conference Thursday.
For the time being, the new system will function almost identically to the Nixle alerts many residents have received for years, although people will have to enroll with the new provider.
According to Gray, the impetus for the switch was the imminent end of the municipality’s contract with Everbridge Nixle. At $43,000 a year, the contract with Rave is more expensive than the $31,000 the city paid Everbridge Nixle annually, although costs will drop to $33,000 after the initial year of onboarding protocols and training.
The Rave system offers new tools, including a mapping component, a polling function and targeted messaging to reach specific neighborhoods if, say, the city is dealing with highly localized emergency events.
“Having an emergency warning and public communication system is crucial for a city like Anchorage that deals with natural disasters on a regular occurrence,” Mayor Dave Bronson said in a written statement. “This new system will enhance our city’s capacity to provide timely updates and notices to the public during times of crisis.”
Even if they are already enrolled in Nixle, residents wanting to receive alerts will have to sign up for the new Rave system.
“We recognize that this will be a lift for our community,” Gray said.
To reach existing alert recipients, the municipality sent a Nixle message about the switch Thursday afternoon, and plans to send out more messages on social media and other communication channels.
The signup page is available online at bit.ly/ancalerts, or mobile users can text the word “Anchorage” to the number 67283 to receive alerts through the new Rave platform.
The change takes effect Monday.