In December, the ETCOG Executive Committee approved to fund a mass notification system for the East Texas region as a part of its public safety program for the tenth consecutive year. The system allows ETCOG to partner with cities and counties in East Texas to send messages quickly notifying citizens about emergency situations such as:

■ Tornadoes and storm events

■ Drinking water contamination

■ Utility outage

■ Evacuation notice and routes

■ Missing person

■ Fires or floods

■ Bomb threat

■ Hostage or active shooter situations

■ Chemical spill or gas leak

■ Other emergency incidents where rapid and accurate notification is essential

ETCOG will begin a new contract this year with Rave Mobile Safety to provide mass notification system services. This service was previously contracted with CodeRED for the last nine years. Through the open procurement process, six competitive bids were received, and Rave was recommended to the ETCOG Executive Committee at its December meeting for offering new and improved service advantages.

Rave Mobile Safety offers unlimited minutes/texting, and unlimited users of the system, as well as a new Weather Warning service which instantly and automatically alerts recipients based on weather in the area including type of weather, location, and severity. It also allows the user to provide over 50 different language translations when deploying a notification and use this across several social media platforms.

“We are very excited to begin our service with Rave Mobile Safety,” said ETCOG’s Public Safety Director, Stephanie Heffner. “The capacity to have unlimited minutes and unlimited users opens up the opportunity to partner with more jurisdictions in the region that may have not participated before. Also, we know many of our jurisdictions currently pay for weather warning services out of pocket, so we are happy to offer a cost saving opportunity with this new vendor.”

The Rave system has been contracted for the service area of Anderson, Camp, Cherokee Gregg, Harrison, Marion, Panola, Rains, Rusk, Smith, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood counties. The new service agreement began Dec 13, 2019, and goes through Dec 12, 2020, for a total of $84,500 to be funded by ETCOG through a Homeland Security grant.

All public telephone records in the region have been transferred to Rave Mobile Safety. However, cell phone users and individuals who registered online for notifications through CodeRED will need to register for the new system. In the coming weeks, existing customers will receive a notification with a link to register their information in the new Rave system to ensure they continue to receive emergency alerts. ETCOG is also coordinating with area Emergency Management Coordinators to update the opt-in information offered on their websites.