SUWANEE -- Soon, Suwanee residents may be alerted about an impending storm, crime activity around the corner, or which concert is at Town Center on Saturday night. All on their cellphone.
City officials are pursuing the ability to notify residents by phone with a specific message that may only impact their neighborhood. Discussions about emergency alert systems and companies began in March after severe storms swept through the area. But they were augmented in April when a man, who later died, was accused of killing his girlfriend and shooting a neighbor in Auburn, then fleeing to a home on Scales Road in Suwanee.
That kind of situation makes an alert system that can circle a geographic area in which to notify residents appealing to city officials.
City manager Marty Allen recently told council members that after research of several companies by Suwanee Police Chief Mike Jones and Deputy Chief Janet Moon, a company called CodeRed is their preferred choice. The annual cost for the city is about $10,000, Allen said.
One of CodeRed's products is an emergency notification system that contacts residents by telephone, text message or email during emergencies.
"If we had this system at that time, we could have geographically created a circle that said everybody in here gets a specific message," Allen said of the Scales Road incident. "The benefit of it is it's similar to insurance. You hope you never have to use it, but if you have it, you're happy that you have it."
A CodeRed system was used last month after a chemical plant incident near Dalton. A similar system is in place around Rome. A message on CodeRed's website said the company has grown to include institutions of high education and utility companies. Allen said it's used at schools like Virginia Tech following on-campus emergencies.
A bonus to the system would be an opt-in element that could inform residents by text message or email of an upcoming concert.
"That's not the core of why we're doing it, it's a bonus," Allen said. "I personally think that's going to become even more common, information pushing."