The city may begin using a free outside communications service to inform residents of situations such as curbside leaf bag pickups and trash collection schedule changes.
Shelton began using the CodeRed emergency notification system a few months ago, designed to send messages to people during emergencies. The city pays an annual fee to use CodeRed, which is similar to a reverse 9-1-1 system.
The new PingTown system would be different. It would be used for non-emergency messages, partly as a way to make sure more routine messages aren’t being sent out through CodeRed.
“If we use CodeRed all the time, people will begin to tune it out,” said Police Chief Joel Hurliman.
Tree pickups to boat ramp closings
The PingTown notification system could be utilized to inform people about everything from the Christmas tree pickup schedule to summer boat ramp closures, Hurliman said.
“We’d use it for routine things of interest to all or some people,” he said.
Hurliman said this might include messages from municipal departments such as public works, parks and recreation, and the registrar of voters.
Police messages are more likely to be sent out through CodeRed since most would involve emergencies.
Once the system was implemented, people would be able to sign up to receive PingTown messages by cell phone, landline phone or email. “You can customize how the information is sent to you,” Hurliman said.
Signing up to receive messages through PingTown or CodeRed is free for residents.
With CodeRed, city officials are hoping to get more people to sign up to receive messages through their cell phone numbers and email addresses.
All landlines in the city have been automatically entered into the CodeRed system, but the goal is to be able to get information to people in the most efficient manner during an actual emergency.
City officials are expected to step up efforts to get more people to sign up with contact information other than home phone numbers.
So far, CodeRed has been used only on a very limited basis in Shelton, but that could change with the coming arrival of winter and the possibility of major snowstorms.
A major impetus for implementing CodeRed in Shelton was the huge blizzard in February that shut down the city — as well as most of the state — for a few days.
The region has suffered through other major storms in recent years as well, including Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy, that led to extended power outages in many communities.
How to get CodeRed messages
The best way to sign up for CodeRed with cell phone numbers and email addresses is to go to the Shelton Police Department website (sheltonpolice.net) and click on the CodeRed logo on the Home page.
People also can stop by the police station to fill out a form.
Hurliman said he is pleased with the CodeRed system because “it is easy to use.”
He also noted that CodeRed sends messages to people based on location, so if an emergency arises when people are traveling and they are signed up for CodeRed, they will get a message pertaining to that location.
“It’s a very valuable tool,” Hurliman said.