City of Denham Springs launches new alert system to keep public better informed during emergencies

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FILE – In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, a man uses a cell phone in New Orleans. The U.S. communications regulator on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, proposed a $225 million fine, its largest ever, against two health insurance telemarketers for spamming people with 1 billion robocalls using fake phone numbers. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (The Livingston Parish News) – The City of Denham Springs has launched a new program to keep citizens better informed during emergencies.

And in the midst of a nationwide pandemic and multiple storms threatening the Gulf coast, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The “DSAlert” program, powered through the global software company Everbridge, has officially been activated and is now open to the public, the city announced in a statement and via social media Monday.

The mass notification alert system was created to keep residents, businesses, and visitors better prepared and help them respond more quickly and confidently to critical incidents, Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry said in a statement.

It is designed to inform residents and visitors about a variety of events, ranging from severe weather, fires, floods, and law enforcement emergencies, to general announcements, such as large-scale power outages or maintenance.

Among the features of the new platform are multiple contact methods, two-way communication, and updated weather alerts. The City of Denham Springs will manage the tool in coordination with other area departments and agencies.

“DSAlert delivers the information our residents and visitors want and the important alerts they need,” Landry said. “From evacuations to major utility disruptions to neighborhood boil orders, this will be a critical tool to keep people informed and safe when it matters the most.”

Messages will be sent to residents in whichever way they choose “to ensure real-time access to potentially lifesaving information.” Residents listed in the 911 database will be automatically subscribed to alerts by phone, but DSAlert allows people to self-register and provide additional contact information.

The system is already being used to provide quicker updates to city employees, who have been in the program for about two weeks.

Jason Populus, the city’s emergency response manager, is urging people to sign up for the program, which he said is the first of its kind in Livingston Parish. He said the system has the ability to deliver “timely, effective information to you on whatever the situation is.”

“If it’s something that’s going to disrupt our regular flow, we can put the information on that system and send it out to the public in minutes,” Populus said. “This is the way people will get the quickest information.

“Right now, we’re at Facebook speed right now. This will blow Facebook speed out of the water.”

Populus said “another cool aspect” of the program is its customization. People can select which emergencies they want to be alerted of and the way in which they want the alert to come.

“You get the messages that you want and how you want them,” he said. “You can choose the order you receive the messages and which messages you receive. People can make it work for them however they want.”

The program went live on Sunday and attracted about 230 people in 24 hours. Populus said only information that will be sent to those who sign up for the DSAlert will be “important and pertinent.”

“We want people to know that if we send something through the system, it’s not a cry wolf situation — it’s a very serious situation,” he said. “We want to make sure when we send out a message, people read it, so the only messages we’re sending out will be the messages they’re gonna wanna hear about.”

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