Stay alert during NATO
Think the city will be insane? Notification system will keep you informed
05/09/2012 10:00 PM
A free text message and voicemail alert service will provide real-time public safety updates to area residents during the NATO summit later this month.
The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications will receive minute-by-minute updates from the NATO host committee as well as from area police, fire, traffic and aviation agencies throughout the event on and preceding May 20 and 21.
The information will be compiled at the OEMC operations center and sent free of charge to residents subscribed to the Notify Chicago program — a pre-existing text and voicemail alert system related to traffic disruptions, severe weather, major incidents, health warnings and major sports events.
“The Chicago host committee has designated Notify Chicago as a primary means to disseminate information for the summit,” OEMC spokeswoman Delores Robinson said.
Subscribers are able to choose which alerts they would like to receive, keeping the information relevant to a subscriber’s individual interests.
Alert types include life safety, fire, weather, accidents involving utilities or roadways, or disaster notification such as a terrorist attack.
A quick poll downtown found many locals thought the service would be useful.
“I would like to keep up to date on CTA disruptions,” said Karima Merchant, who works at a convenience store in the Loop. “As long as it’s free, I would use it.”
Cameron DeGuerre, a real estate attorney with offices in the Loop, said he thought the service would be useful to coordinate his travels throughout the day.
“I’d use it to keep up with the traffic and planning on how to get down to the courthouse,” DeGuerre said. “I definitely think people in my building would be interested — NATO is going to be insane.”
OEMC officials admitted the potential for abuse. Precautions have been taken to ensure Notify Chicago does not become an enabler for the organization of protests during the summit.
“This will not be a message board for protestors,” Robinson said. “We’ll be careful how we create it so it doesn’t become a driver of private interests.”
Robinson said that Notify Chicago is not new, and the summit will be an opportunity to showcase this longstanding public safety tool.
“This program has been used during Lollapalooza, fireworks displays, Bulls and White Sox games,” Robinson said. “NATO will be just another opportunity to use this free of charge service.”
To sign up to receive Notify Chicago alert messages, residents need to log onto www.alertchicago.org to create a personal account. Three telephone numbers and one email address can be included.