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Connecticut Launches Emergency Alert System

The first statewide comprehensive system of its kind in the U.S. allows residents to with emergency officials via a variety of electronic devices.

The state of Connecticut is now signing up residents for a statewide emergency notification system, the first comprehensive one of its kind in the U.S., according to state officials.

CT Alert allows state authorities to communicate critical information to its residents before, during and after emergencies. The system is a fast and efficient way for Connecticut authorities to reach residents during events such as natural disasters and public-health emergencies, officials said.

The state developed the system with vendor Everbridge, using its Aware emergency-notification technology. Aware is a software-as-a-service-based mass-notification system that allows one person to communicate with multiple individuals via a variety of devices - such as mobile phones, landlines, smartphones, email, text messaging, instant messaging and pagers.

Everbridge provides organizations Web access to its service as well as an interface for setting up a dashboard that allows them to configure messaging. People can set policies so that only some people in the organization are allowed to transmit messages via the system.

The system allows people who sign up to receive messages decide which way they would like to be contacted, and stops sending a message after a person has confirmed receipt, according to Everbridge. The Aware solution also uses geographic positioning to target people who may be in need of help during an emergency.

Some towns in Connecticut - such as Mystic and Pawcatuck -- already have used the CT Alert system to help people stranded by storms in the spring. Monday marks the first broad deployment of the system, and officials are urging residents to sign up for notifications on the CT Alert Web site.

Interest in deploying technologies that allow law-enforcement and first-responder agencies to reach people quickly during emergencies is growing. Everbridge said its solution can help first-responder agencies become compliant with Department of Homeland Security's National Preparedness Plan and National Incident Management System, which provides guidelines for how agencies respond to emergencies.

While states are working on their own solutions for alerting people during times of crisis, the federal government also is considering a nationwide one. In March, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked Congress for between 12 billion to 16 billion to develop a national, interoperable public safety wireless broadband network, as well as a next-generation 911 emergency alert service.

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