Public safety agencies are urging Maricopa County residents to register their cell phone number online for reverse 911 notifications.
The Maricopa Association of Governments reports that only 8,700 cell phone users have signed up for the messages over the past year.
"When emergencies happen in a specific neighborhood, public safety agencies can use the 911 database to call residents and let them know the nature of the emergency and what to do," said City of Phoenix 911 Administrator Liz Graeber. But residents who have cell phones are not automatically contacted."
Instead, they must go online and register their cell phone to receive such emergency notifications, Graeber said.
Residents can register their cell phone number online at911alertsyou.com. They can register up to three devices per email address; those with more than three devices will need to register with alternate e-mail accounts. Residents can also register to receive notifications near their work or business, as long as they use a separate email account.
The Community Emergency Notification System (CENS), also known as Reverse 911, is a rapid emergency notification system that was launched in the Maricopa region in 2004. The system utilizes the 911 database to contact homes or businesses in a specific geographic area during times of emergency, informing them in English, Spanish and TTY (for hearing impaired residents) of the nature of the emergency and what steps to take to address it.
CENS has been used for both law enforcement and fire related emergencies. Any emergency agency in the Maricopa Region has access to CENS, but it can only be activated for defined emergencies, such as fires, public safety threats, flash floods, hazardous material spills, police incidents, and endangered children or elderly persons.
Historically, the system was limited to the ability to notify only wireline (hardwired) phones listed in the 911 database. In late 2010, a self-registration webpage was developed to enable residents to register their cell or Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones for notifications with a physical address of the user's choosing.
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