New alert system keeps residents up to date

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published January 13, 2014

MADISON HEIGHTS — A new notification system is now underway in Madison Heights that will help keep residents apprised of crimes in progress, structure fires, snow emergencies, water main breaks, boil water alerts, road closures and more.

The Nixle Community Information Service had its formal launch last month in Madison Heights. Since then, the police and other city departments have been getting the hang of the system. Through it, they can relay messages to residents via their cellphones in the form of a text message. They can also send messages via email.

All residents have to do is subscribe to Nixle, a free service. To do so, visit the website, www.nixle.com, and click the “Register Now” tab to fill out the form.

Alternatively, residents can sign up for text message notifications by sending a text message to 888777, with the zip code of the area they want notifications for in the body of the text. The messages can also be accessed anytime at www.nixle.com.

Residents can also use the free service to receive updates for neighboring zip codes, although usage will vary based on the participation of those cities.

Corey Haines, deputy police chief of Madison Heights, said the timing was right for the city to get on board with Nixle.

“We had information about Nixle some years prior, but they were charging fees we couldn’t justify at the time,” Haines said. “Now that they’ve come back and they’re offering the portion of the service we’re using for free, and it’s not costing the citizens anything, it’s an excellent way for us to communicate with the public on an immediate basis. There won’t be a time delay.”

He said the police can quickly alert residents of accidents that cause lane closures, but they won’t report your average fender-bender. The police can also use it for crimes in progress or other dangerous situations.

“If we have a missing child or missing adult, we can get that information out to the citizenry, so they can be our eyes and ears,” Haines said. “If we have a picture, we can even attach the picture,” although what the subscriber receives may depend on what they sign up for and what medium they’re using.

And those are just a few examples. All sorts of messages can be relayed from the city to the residents via Nixle. City Councilman Mark Bliss said it’s a great option for members of the community.

“Knowledge is power, and this gives our residents the power they need to react to the things that may happen suddenly within our city — the emergencies and major issues that will impact their lives,” Bliss said. “Now, they will get a text message or email letting them know immediately what’s going on. It’s phenomenal, and I’m thrilled our city can provide this access to our residents.”

For more information about Nixle, call the Madison Heights Police Department at (248) 585-2100, or visit www.nixle.com.