Beaufort County officials have implemented a new mass notification system called hyper-reach.
It can notify citizens of potential danger in minutes with instant alerts. "Emergency alerts are emergency alerts. They're life-threatening, imminent-type events," said Beaufort County Emergency Management Coordinator John Pack.
Emergency alerts aren't the only notification included in the system. It will also let citizens know about smaller events, such as pipe bursts and downed power lines.
The system cost the county $15,000 dollars. It's a number figure Pack says would be easily surpassed by spending used to send emergency crews into dangerous areas to notify the public; a process Pack says can take hours. "I can just draw a circle on my map, online on the computer. It'll notify everybody in there, shelter in place," said Pack.
The problem is there aren't enough people signed up for the program. Pack estimates approximately 44 thousand people live in the county. Of all the county's landlines, only 30% are registered with the program. Of all citizens in the county, only 600 have registered their cell phones with the program. Pack hopes to get at least 10 thousand people signed up.
"The more information they get from us, they can take appropriate measures to save their own lives. They don't become a victim," said Pack.
Beaufort County residents who spoke with Newschannel 12 believe it's a good use of taxpayer dollars. "Pretty much give 'em time to gather the family up, for the disaster, whatever it's gonna be," said Washington resident Forrest Williams.
Registration with hyper-reach only takes a few minutes. Click here to sign up.