Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, was searching for a multi-purpose software solution that could efficiently notify its city staff to respond to the emergency management operations centre. They needed a way to quickly communicate with their staff on emergency-related services and have greater control over the distribution of messages to localized residents so that communication remains relevant.
Under the directive of Fire Chief Neil Marsh, Meadow Lake adopted Voyent Alert!, a mass notification system to streamline emergency alerts and operations. But not only that, this software served community members beyond emergencies and provided them with day-to-day communication on events and activities that impact their city.
After a year of continual use, administrators have successfully issued general notices, pandemic updates, localized notices for service interruptions, boil water advisories, and of course, safety and emergency alerts.
Making Jobs Easier
While Meadow Lake still relies on radio and door-to-door notices from time to time, Voyent Alert! helps extend the reach to their citizens by covering as many bases as possible with its multi-channel delivery, reducing operational efforts and boosting staff productivity.
“We have used the recipient response and team recall features to help manage staffing and overtime as well as private groups for internal communications,” remarks Neil. “The mobile admin feature that allows a commander to send out an alert at the incident of the scene extremely helpful for getting information out quickly.”
Better yet, its residents enjoy the speed and convenience of being notified in advance of an event, such as a street blockage or service interruption, which helps them plan accordingly. This also keeps Meadow Lake’s public works team safer and happier, as people will know to avoid the areas they are working on.
Even one-off events can be effectively communicated – Neil recalls the recent experience of a bear running through the town and applauded his team’s efforts in quickly communicating a safety notice to the public via Voyent Alert!
More Than an Emergency Alert System
While Meadow Lake was originally on the hunt for a software system to better support their emergency operations unit, they discovered far more practical uses beyond emergency alerts with Voyent Alert!. “We use the service and its features in a variety of different ways to engage our community with day-to-day notifications and information that contribute to their daily lives,” says Neil.
“We’ve set up automatic garbage and recycling collection reminders for our community members. People find it useful, as it rotates each week, so it helps them remember which week it is. It is also easy for us, as we can schedule this in advance for up to 2 years, so we do not have to think about it on a weekly basis either.”
Moreover, by including rich media such as pictures and links in their alerts, Meadow Lake can reunite missing furry friends with their families by sending a notification to the community with a photo of the impounded animal and contact information.
Among the many valuable features that Voyent Alert! offers, the most important one to Meadow Lake is its advanced geofencing capabilities. “Voyent Alert! gives us complete control over what goes out, so it’s completely relevant to our local residents,” says Neil.
Getting in Front of Emergencies
Severe weather events can impact just about anything, including transportation. This past July, Meadow Lake experienced massive rainfall in which many main roads got washed out, inhibiting citizens’ regular commute to and from work.
Using Voyent Alert’s unique geo-targeting feature, the town successfully issued an emergency alert that mapped out the washed-out roads, advising citizens to avoid the specific areas affected. They revised the alert multiple times to keep people apprised of which roads were closed and open.
“We used targeted nested zones in this alert,” adds Neil. “This allowed us to send different messaging to those that were close to incident locations and different messaging for those out of town to keep them up to date with general information.”
Positive Community Feedback
From the get-go, Meadow Lake welcomed Voyent Alert! as the town’s newest communication service. Feedback has been positive with its easy-to-use digital dashboard and straightforward registration process.
To encourage user registration, Meadow Lake promoted the service through traditional advertising, newsletters, email signatures, as well as setting up a “Where’s Waldo” type of trivia game to help residents get the hang of how to use Voyent Alert!.
“We set up posters around town and utilized the mobile app for responses to questions about the town, local history, and emergency management,” says Neil. “This was a fun community engagement strategy that residents really enjoyed!”
Using the platform as a solution for both emergency alerts and day-to-day operations that affect citizens’ daily lives has driven increased registration numbers. “We are very cognizant in making sure the messages are relevant and confined to a local area by using the advanced geo-targeting technology,” adds Neil. “When the pandemic started, we were sending out daily updates, and this really helped drive registration amongst our community.”
“All-in-all, Voyent Alert! has become our comprehensive community communications system. It is much more than an alerting app. Voyent Alert! offers way more value than most of the other systems out there and for less money. Some of the new features in the works are quite exciting!”
Learn more about Voyent Alert! and how towns and organizations can enhance community information, engagement, and safety.