Tempe residents asked to register cellphones for emergencies
by Laurie Merrill - Sept. 4, 2010 08:16 AM
The Arizona Republic
The Tempe Police Department is urging residents to register their cellphones for the emergency system that lets people know about emergencies.
If you have a home phone, you already have the feature. All landline phones in Maricopa County have been part of the system since 2004, said Molly Enright, police community affairs specialist.
"What is new is that Tempe residents - and, in fact, residents from across Maricopa County - have the option to provide their public-safety agencies the cellphones registered to themselves and their families."
The capability to get emergency messages on cellphones became available last week, Enright said. The city hopes many people register their cellphones as they are quickly becoming primary phones.
The system is called Community Emergency Notification System, or CENS.
Residents may have heard these messages or picked up the phone to hear tape- recorded warnings from the police.
Typically, public-safety agencies warn residents about the following emergencies:
• Neighborhood school shutdowns.
• House-to-house searches for suspects.
• Flash-flood warnings or rolling blackouts.
• Hazardous spills in the area.
The information will be limited to the participant's neighborhood. The city will not share names, addresses or phone numbers, Enright said, nor will residents be bombarded with messages.
"People are overwhelmed with information," Enright said. "We did half a dozen notifications last year."
The message is recorded at the local 911 call center. The dispatcher will record the message in the necessary languages. The system also has text telephone, or TTY, capability for the hearing-impaired. There is TTY detection equipment that will bypass the voice-recorded portion when a text telephone or a telecommunications device for the deaf is detected.
The calls will show up on caller ID as "REVERSE911CALL." If the line is busy, the system will call back in five minutes.
Tempe belongs to Maricopa Region 911 as well as the Maricopa Association of Governments. The partnership provides the system for registering cellphones for emergency alerts, Enright said.
"The city of Tempe and Tempe police have made an ongoing commitment to the innovative use of technology to increase safety for our community as well as improve our service," Enright said.
Tempe is one of six agencies in the county that are offering registration.
To register your phone, go to either www.tempe.gov/police or http://www
. maricoparegion911.org/CENS.htm .