|By Katelyn Gendron-List, Reminder Assistant Editor|
AGAWAM For over a year city officials have had the ability to reach residents and businesses within minutes of an emergency by utilizing a new emergency notification system called Connect-CTY.
However even with the success of Connect-CTY, which currently stores the contact information for 85 percent of Agawam residents, for Chester Nicora, chairman of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, there are still 15 percent of people that have not registered for this system.
At any given time one of three city officials who have access to Connect-CTY can record an emergency message that will be distributed to all phone numbers, answering machines, voicemails, e-mails and fax numbers in the database within minutes.
"In the event of an emergency we want to make sure that we can contact people otherwise Connect-CTY lacks what we want it to do," Richard Cohen, mayor of Agawam said. "This is a good working tool and a supplement to other emergency notification services."
So far the system has been used for floods and heat waves, reminding people to hydrate and to check on their elderly, Cohen added. Connect-CTY can also be used to notify the public of a missing person, power outages, traffic conditions or weather updates.
According to the NTI Group, Inc., which runs Connect-CTY and Jeffrey Hulbert, Information Technology director for the city of Agawam, none of the information is in any way sold or distributed to a third party. Even if a resident's information is unlisted in the city phone book it will remain so regardless of whether they register for Connect-CTY.
Residents have the capability to register their home and cellular phone numbers as well as their e-mail addresses and fax numbers all of which can be notified simultaneously in the event of an emergency message. Recordings of the message will be left on the answering machines and voicemails in the event that a person cannot be reached. However in the event that a call does not go through the Connect-CTY system will call back several times before the system will stop calling the number altogether, according to information released by NTI Group, Inc.
Of the 8,000 Agawam numbers currently stored within the Connect-CTY database 7,123 were successfully reached the last time that the system was used, Nicora stated.
"So far the system has not let us down," Cohen said. "I've registered by home phone, cell phone, and e-mail and it took me less than five minutes."
For members of the community that have not registered their information with Connect-CTY or for those who need to update their information go to www.agawam.ma.us and click on the orange Connect-CTY icon on the left side of the page.