Residents urged to join new emergency notification system
By Robert Fucci
Board of Selectmen Chair Jesse Limanek listens to a presentation about CodeRED, an emergency notification system the Town of Sutton has implemented. PHOTO BY ROBERT FUCCI
The next time there’s an emergency in the Town of Sutton, residents will be notified via CodeRED, an emergency notification system designed by ONSOLVE.
But to be notified of weather alerts, criminal activity and more, residents must first join the platform.
“There have been 100 million notifications across Massachusetts the last 10 years,” ONSOLVE representative Peter Applegarth said during the Nov. 7 Board of Selectmen meeting. “Two hundred and thirty cities and towns across the Commonwealth are using CodeRED. It’s for anything you can think of: missing person, active shooter, criminal activity.”
The system replaces the old reverse 911, formerly run by the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.
“We had no way of getting emergencies out to the public,” Town Administrator Jim Smith said.
CodeRED has been successful in parts of the state.
Officials with the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department and Taunton Police Department attribute their ability to quickly locate a missing elderly man to their use of the CodeRED system.
In the early afternoon of March 2, 2016, a frantic father in Carver called the Carver Police Department to report that his 12-year-old son was missing. When the call was received, the young boy had already been missing for two hours. A woman who received the CodeRED alert relayed the information to her husband around 4 p.m., who then took his ATV into the woods to search. He found the child about half a mile away from his home in the woods, and the boy was safely reunited with his father.
“We can launch millions of calls per minute,” Applegarth said. “It’s a very fast system. To call an entire town, it would take 3-5 minutes.”
If an emergency happened today in Sutton, the system would only reach 4,000 to 5,000 residents.
“We want to get the word out so they can get online and get more information,” Applegarth said, adding all personal information added to the system will be protected and won’t be released unless compelled by a court of law. “See what it’s all about and why it’s important for them. They can add phone numbers, email addresses, home addresses. We want it to be very accurate for when you highlight one specific area or neighborhood.”
Selectmen Chair Jesse Limanek asked whether larger towns or smaller towns are more active with CodeRED.
“We actually see a lot higher participation rates in smaller communities,” Applegarth said.
An icon will be posted on the town’s website where residents can sign up. Smith said he would identify someone within his operations to help residents should they call for assistance.