FARMINGTON -- With more Top of Utah families swapping out their home phone for individual cell phones, the Davis County Sheriff's Office is looking at a new wireless strategy to be able to contact residents in the event of an area emergency ranging from road closures to earthquakes.
On Tuesday, the Davis County Commission approved a two-year agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for an Integrated Public Alert and Warning System and Wireless Emergency Alerting system.
The cost to the county for the new state-of-the-art communication system, a national alert system in which Amber alerts and national weather warnings are included, is $20,000, money to be paid out of a Homeland Security grant.
Now, all the Davis County Sheriff's Office needs is to get the public to cooperate by downloading what will be to them a free service.
"We need the public to download the app," Sheriff's Emergency Services Coordinator Ellis Bruch said of the system that goes by the name of ping4alerts.
Ping4alerts is an emergency communications system for mobile citizens. Homeland Security, federal and state emergency management agencies, state police departments and state fire marshals use ping4alerts.
Having the public download the app will be much easier than trying to get the public to register their individual cell phone numbers with the sheriff's office, Bruch said.
Not only will the app, available on Apple or Android phones, allow the sheriff's office to send out evacuation notices in the event of major incidents, but it will also allow the sheriff's office to send out road closures notices, and a mapping of how to maneuver around the closure, Bruch said.
"It is a neat system," Bruch said of the service that is being used more and more across the country.
With only 54 percent of county residents having a land line, Bruch said, the sheriff's office needs to find better ways to communicate with its residents.
"Thank you for keeping your eye out for systems like these," Davis County Commissioner Louenda Downs said in commending Bruch.
In the next few weeks to be certain the wireless system is doing what it is supposed to, Bruch said, the sheriff's office will be running countywide tests on it.
Those who download the new free app will receive all warning notifications issued by the sheriff's office, Davis County Sheriff Sgt. Susan Poulsen said.
Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.