Online program helps Grosse Pointe residents stay informed

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To help keep Grosse Pointe Woods residents aware of what is happening in their community, city administration has turned to Nixle, a subscription-based service that alerts residents of major events that occur via text or email.

“I think it’s an asset for informing the public right away and for assistance from the public,” said Lt. Keith Waszak. “The public are our eyes and ears and the more information they have, the better.”

The system is free to residents, all they need to provide is a cellphone number or an email, along with their home address or the nearest intersection to where they live so they can receive the most accurate alerts.

Along with text and email updates, Nixle has a website that provides more information.

Some examples of alerts that are sent out include: emergencies involving public safety that might require residents to stay in or leave their homes, crimes that are in progress or occurred, traffic updates, and inclement weather warnings.

“We wanted to integrate this program into the community to be able to better inform the residents,” said information technology manager Gary Capps. “The dispatchers run the program when they are on duty, so it can be active 24 hours a day. When people get that alert and they know what’s going on, then they are less likely to call the Public Safety Department when an emergency is going on and overwhelming the dispatchers with unnecessary calls.”

Waszak said approximately 5,000 Grosse Pointe Woods residents have subscribed to Nixle since the city began using the program in 2010, which is only about one-third of the city’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“I wish everyone could be enrolled in Nixle,” said Waszak. “But you’ve got people like the older community here in Grosse Pointe Woods that may not have the text message and email capabilities they need to use it, that’s really the only downfall I see with the program.”

Capps said that Nixle is run by the dispatchers that are on duty and when people receive alerts they are less likely to call the Public Safety Department when an emergency occurs and overwhelm the dispatchers with unnecessary calls. 

“I think we got it because it was very beneficial to everybody, but it’s just like any other system,” said Capps. “People have to put in their address and phone number and create a login, but in the end it makes alerting residents easier and helps create a safer community.”

For residents who also want to know what is going on in neighboring communities, Nixle works for that too.

“You can add Grosse Pointe Woods, you can add whatever city you live in or areas around you so if they send out an alert you know what’s going on around you, all you have to do is put in the zip codes you want to see,” Capps said.

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