HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) - A new system designed to protect you during emergencies is already online in Hamburg, Blasdell, Lancaster and some other local towns. But how does "Code Red" work?
After the murder of a Toys R Us store manager back in June, Hamburg Police put out a Code Red alert, asking for surveillance video form nearby stores that might have captured the suspect.
Town of Hamburg Emergency Management Coordinator Sean Crotty said, "We called close to 700 businesses. It took us 17 minutes to call through the entire list once. This is just an easier way to let the businesses know, if they have surveillance footage we'd be interested in seeing it. It got us increased footage, more video to review that we otherwise wouldn't have had."
The technology is impressive. A dispatcher can zoom in on an area, draw a shape freehand, and automatically have residents within the defined area receive a Code Red alert. The system is entirely online.
To sign up:
"Currently, we have 23,265 phone numbers," Crotty said. "It's only as good as the numbers that we have. So if we don't have your number, we need your information. Otherwise, we can't contact you."
News 4 also heard from Edward Sauer who is the Emergency Management Coordinator in the Town of Elma. He says they began using Code Red in 2008. "We love it. Our Water and Highway departments use it all the time to inform the residents of water main breaks or up coming road work, our Town Supervisor uses it for town announcements, and I use it in emergency situations," Sauer explained.
Erie County Commissioner of Emergency Services Dan Neaverth, Jr. said, "To be honest with you, I was absolutely thrilled to hear that some of these communities are doing it because it has a tremendous value."
Neaverth says he is considering adding the Code Red system or something similar, county-wide.
"Everybody likes to throw around Reverse 911, but Reverse 911 has its limitations. There are only so many phone lines, so [a limited number of] people can be reached at any given time, as opposed to a system like Code Red."
Neaverth says Code Red does a lot more, a lot faster.
"They've had some major success stories," he said.
David Digiacomo is the president of the company that created Code Red, Emergency Communications Network (ECN). He spoke to News 4 via Skype from Florida.
"We're in every state across the United States," he said.
We asked how quickly the service could be added in Erie County. "This could actually be rolled out [county-wide] in just a matter of a couple of days, maybe a week or so, if the funding was there," Neaverth concluded.
Neaverth says grants could cover the cost of around $80,000 to $100,000 a year for Erie County. In Hamburg, Crotty says the service is worth every dollar they're already paying.
"We're looking at 57 cents per person in the Town of Hamburg," Crotty said. "I think it's money well-spent, to be proactive with communication."
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