The Anchorage Police Department will no longer send out public safety and crime alerts via text message starting next week.
The department is switching to notifications through email or the Everbridge Mobile app starting Monday, April 12, police said in a statement. Everbridge is the company behind Nixle alerts, which Anchorage police began using in 2014 as a way to get information to the public. Anchorage residents must subscribe to the free service to receive the alerts, which were previously sent out by text and email.
Other Alaska agencies also use Nixle to distribute information, including public safety organizations like the Alaska State Troopers or Anchorage Fire Department, the local health department, public library, street maintenance and public transportation departments. Only the Anchorage Police Department notifications will stop being delivered by text, the statement said.
The department took the police scanner offline in 2016, making Nixle alerts the main way for the public to access information about ongoing crimes. In the wake of the scanner’s removal, social media pages have sprung up with citizen reports about crime. Some Facebook groups have grown to more than 60,000 members.
Anchorage police often share the Nixle reports on their own social media pages, also.
Anchorage police said the department is removing text messages from the notification system due to a rate increase in the annual Nixle subscription. It was not immediately clear how much the department pays for the annual subscription or how substantial the increase would be.
The Everbridge app can be downloaded for free on any smartphone. Anchorage police said subscribers will need to activate push notifications on the app to receive updates.
“The push notifications will act like a text,” police said.
Information was not immediately available about how many people subscribe to the police department’s Nixle alerts.