Local

City of McHenry upgrades Nixle alert system

McHENRY – The city of McHenry and the McHenry Police Department have upgraded their Nixle alert system.

Officials said the $5,000 upgrade will improve communication between city departments and McHenry residents. Nixle is a text, email and telephone alert service that allows governmental organizations to let subscribers know of major events and advisories in real time.

Frequent subjects of the alerts include road closures and other traffic emergencies; kidnappings; criminal and police activity; missing persons; and weather and school advisories.

The service partners with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the National Blue Alert Network and Google.

The upgrade will allow departments to better target audiences and reach more people, McHenry police said.

“A big difference with Nixle 360 versus the basic version is that we can target specific areas for emergency-type messages,” Deputy Chief Tom Walsh said. “For example, if we had a police situation in a neighborhood and wanted that area to be aware of the police activity, we could send out an advisory by selecting the area on a map. It keeps the public informed in a timely manner and cuts down on the inquiries into our dispatch center.”

Another benefit to the new program is that Nixle 360 is connected to McHenry’s social media pages, Walsh said.

“Nixle 360 is linked to all the city social media pages, such as Facebook and Twitter,” Walsh said. “When we send out a message, we can reach a greater number of people by hitting all those platforms at once.”

Residents can sign up through multiple platforms, including www.nixle.com, text or the city’s website. The method on the city’s website allows users to sign up to get notifications on their cellphones, home phones and by email.

Users also can subscribe to receive notifications from other nearby organizations, such as McHenry School District 15 and the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, on the Nixle website.

Residents can text 60050 to 888777 to sign up for text message notifications from McHenry.

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