Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Lee County Alert App Aims to Enhance Awareness of Dangerous Situations

The GOES East satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and taken Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, at 9:15 a.m. EDT, shows Hurricane Matthew about 220 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.

“naplesWith hurricane season fast approaching, Lee County Emergency Management is trying to raise awareness of new technology that is being implemented to warn residents about dangerous situations.

The Lee Alert App is the county’s integrated way of getting emergency information to smartphone users. The app, which is available for both Apple and Android devices, has GPS functionality that can inform you of your current evacuation zone. According to Amy Hoyt, a Geographic Information Systems Manager with Lee County, users can register their home address so that the app can send them alerts about that area incase they work in a different zone.

Hoyt explained that the app also updates the user in real time about the status of emergency shelters and provides a map with directions to open locations.

“It will show you the open shelters,” said Hoyt. “It won’t show you all the shelters, just the ones that are currently open and it will also show you where all of our active evacuation zones are.”

In addition to alert and shelter functions, the app also features information on family disaster planning, what emergency supplies residents should keep at home, and local weather forecasts.

The county also participates in the Emergency Communications Network’s CodeRed program. The CodeRed app works similarly warning smartphone users of fires, floods, evacuation notices, missing persons cases, and criminal activity. Like the Lee Alert App, it ties its notifications to the users geographical area but is part of nationwide system making it perfect for part-time residents or those vacationing in Lee County. According to Emergency Management Operations Chief Sandra Tapfumaneyi, the CodeRed system was used to notify Lehigh Acres residents during the recent wildfire that scorched roughly 360 acres in April.

With all the new technology available, the County is still utilizing traditional methods to reach residents in emergency situations. Tapfumaneyi says that the country still relies on older technology, like weather alert radios, to reach many residents.

“We encourage everyone to have a weather alert radio in their home and to keep it turned on,” said Tapfumaneyi. “There is some basic programming when you first turn it on so make sure to select your county and the kind of alerts that you want because if you don’t it won’t alert you properly.”

Residents who would like to know more about how to receive emergency alerts from the county can visit this link.

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