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East Lansing and Ingham County to change emergency alert systems

May 31, 2024
<p>East Lansing City Council held a meeting to meet potential candidates on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.</p>

East Lansing City Council held a meeting to meet potential candidates on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.

Starting Saturday, June 1, the City of East Lansing and Ingham County will be switching their emergency alert systems to Rave Alert, a mass notification system. The new emergency alert system will enable users to personalize what type of alerts they receive, share information with local dispatchers and allow for more geographically-specific notifications. 

Nixle, the current emergency alert system, will no longer be used by the departments to send critical alerts and other notifications.

Ingham County Staff Service Manager Kyla Carranco said users who currently have a profile through Nixle will automatically have a profile created on Rave Alert; however, they must manually enable notifications in order to use the new system. 

Carranco said Rave Alert allows the departments to send targeted, geographical alerts, more so than that of the current system. 

“It gives us more flexibility, so that we can alert where it’s needed and not cause disruption in areas that don’t need any alerting,” Carranco said of Rave Alert. 

She also said that while the current system allows for “some geographic alerting,” Rave Alert gives even more control over those areas, where they can narrow alerts down to a block radius. 

“We’re able to do that more on-the-fly and on an as-needed basis,” Carranco said. “In the previous system, that had to be pre-built.” 

City of East Lansing Communications Director Carrie Sampson said Rave Alert allows users to customize the type of alerts they receive, as well as the ability to indicate accessibility and language preferences. Sampson said the app also allows users to indicate additional information that may be useful to dispatchers in the event of an emergency. 

"For example, if someone in your house is deaf or has autism, you can indicate that with the Smart 911 application.” Sampson said. “You can even include that you have a pet. … It has a lot of features that help dispatchers know if you have a special circumstance.” 

Users can still receive emergency alerts through the system without providing this information. 

“You don't have to give any more information than what you, as the user, feel comfortable providing,”  Sampson said. 

Ingham County Staff Services Manager Melissa Harris said the new system allows users to opt into mass notifications on topics like weather, traffic-related incidents, road closures, evacuations and more.

“If they have a profile, (members of) the public can opt into any alerts they want in their area,” Harris said. 

Sampson said after the mass shooting at MSU on Feb. 13, 2023, Ingham County began working on switching over to a new emergency alert system in order to streamline communication among its municipalities.

“After the tragedy last February, Ingham County began looking at how we could unify,” Sampson said. “They have really pursued this plan and invited all of the municipalities throughout the county to join them.” 

Sampson said RaveAlert is used widely throughout the country and other areas in Michigan currently use this system. 

To sign up for the new alert system, visit the Smart911 website

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