County has new early warning system

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Victor Jimenez, Fern Valley Water District general manager. Photo by JP Crumrine

Victor Jimenez, Fern Valley Water District general manager.
Photo by JP Crumrine

Riverside County has implemented a new early warning notification system. The EWNS is used to alert and warn residents and businesses in the county of emergencies such as wildfires, floods, hazardous materials, severe weather and certain law enforcement incidents.

A request for proposal to replace the former EWNS, commonly referred to as “reverse 911,” with a new system was issued in September 2015. Swiftreach Networks of New Jersey submitted the winning bid.

“There are more enhancements, including the ability to send notifications by email or text message,” said Kathleen Henderson of the county’s Emergency Management Department, who has been the lead on the project. “We can attach photos now, for example, of missing persons.”

Another new capability is the use of cell phones to manage the system. Henderson or any EMD duty officer can initiate the system from a cell phone. The need to be at the Emergency Coordination Center has been eliminated.

“We can launch from any desktop or from apps for our cell phone,” she added.

The EWNS serves the entire county. If residents or homeowners have a land line, then the county will have the phone number for that location. If residents have only voice over internet phones or cell phones, Henderson recommends they visit the EMD website, www.rivcoready.org/, and click the link for EWN to register your phone number.

Henderson has invested more than two years preparing the RFP, reviewing the responses and working with Swiftreach to implement the system. The project will cost $225,000 and is funded from a 2014 Homeland Security Grant for three years.

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