FIVE COUNCILS ARE already using an information alert service which sends texts and emails as well as engaging on social media sites to inform people of any service information or restrictions in their area.
MapAlerter allows the councils to send important service alerts such as severe weather warnings, flood alerts, boil water notices and road closures to members of the public.
Users signing up to receive alerts can tailor the service to their needs so they only receive information that will affect them.
Brendan Cunningham, Managing Director of MapAlerter said this aspect of the service was important to save people sifting through irrelevant information.
“If you live on a mountain you don’t want to be getting flood alerts so we’re not sending wasted alerts, it’s a focused approach,” he said.
Cunningham worked in a county council IT department for ten years and said he noticed councils were not able to communicate with people effectively and were in need of such a service.
So far, Wexford, Limerick, Roscommon and Carlow County Councils have signed up as well as Waterford City Council.
The cost for councils is between €7,500 and €9,500 and Cunningham said it is saving them money in the long term.
“Budgets are tight but they see it as a big save,” he said. “If you think about something like a boil alert that’s printed and send to every home, you’re paying for the design, the ink, the paper, the postage and fuel if it’s being delivered etc. so it’s major savings for councils on alerts.”
For users, the service is free and they are only required to set up one account on the website in order to receive text, email, phonecall and social media alerts.
Wexford County Council were the first council to sign up to MapAlerter as a direct response to the big freeze in winter 2010.
“With the severe we experience it will prove crucial for councils,” Cunningham said.
“I’m probably the only person who wants severe weather to prove the system and show how well it can work. I hope we’re absolutely snowed in this winter”.
Subscription to the website is in the thousands now and Cunningham said he expects several other councils to sign up for the service over the next year.