Council nixes Facebook for a new optionIt might not be as social a network as Facebook or Twitter, but a new service being considered by the Farmington City Council could help to get important messages out to residents faster than either of the others.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
It might not be as social a network as Facebook or twitter, but a new service being considered by the Farmington City Council could help to get important messages out to residents faster than either of the others.
Called Nixle, the notification system is billed as “America’s community information service” and it is designed to provide residents with information about their city, from messages about inclement weather to missing persons and even upcoming events at the local farmer’s market.
In looking for a solution to mayor Todd Larson’s request to start Facebook or Twitter pages for the city of Farmington — a prospect that includes possible legal ramifications when it comes to retaining government data — Farmington human resource specialist Brenda Wendlandt and police chief Brian Lindquist came across Nixle. It’s a newer program that is being used by several law enforcement officers and agencies. Lindquist included.
Nixle provides a standardized, secure service that allows municipalities to share information with residents through e-mails and text messages. The service is free.
The registration asks for a telephone number, so Nixle can share urgent messages to phones. It asks for home addresses so it can send information specific to a registrant’s neighborhood.
But more than that, people who register can enter other addresses, like a child’s college address, a work location or other important locations. That way, when there are messages to be shared from those locations, the registered user also gets the message, even if it is in another community.
“There is no limit to the number of locations you can register for,” Lindquist said.
Lindquist says the service will come in handy for notifying residents about important information. For instance, if there is a home invasion, police could post information to Nixle, and it would be immediately disseminated throughout the neighborhood, or even the community. Or, if an accident tied up a specific intersection, that notice could be sent out with an alternate route recommendation.
Members do not have the ability to comment on posts, but that is part of what Wendlandt and Lindquist like about the program.
“There is no spam, no advertising, and we can get messages out to our residents that is specific to the city of Farmington,” Wendlandt said. “We’re really excited about it.”
Nixle offers the city the opportunity to publish to Twitter, if it so chooses.
The information would be under three categories — the police department, Farmington Fire Department and general community messages.
“The departments that are using this are very happy with it,” Lindquist said.
The police department is set up already, and Wendlandt is working with the fire department and city to set up the other categories. A link will be posted to the city’s Web site so residents can register for the program, or they can also register by visiting Nixle.com.