John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Emergency Notification System Survey

This survey asks your opinion about using a service to be notified of emergencies via your cell phone and/or social media.

Recently, there have been several emergency situations in Newtown Township about which residents should have been notified. On March 7, 2018, during a snow emergency power failure, the Township Building was open as a “warming center,” but before any township residents were aware of this, power was restored; on October 24, 2018, Swamp Road and Route 413 experienced significant traffic delays due to an accident.

The list goes on. And although the Newtown Police Department and/or the Township Manager were able to post information about these incidents on Twitter and Facebook or to homeowner associations, these notices reached a limited number of residents or reached them too late.

Not only is there a limited ability to send out emergency and other notices to residents, there is limited ability of residents to easily communicate information to the Township and be assured that a record is kept of each contact.

The Newtown Technology Committee has been investigating services that can solve these problems by sending notices to residents about active shooters, traffic incidents, community events, severe weather alerts, missing persons, etc., via text, mobile apps, email, voice, Twitter, and Facebook. One such system is NIXLE, which is used by over 8,000 communities across the country. For more information download the data sheet.

The following is an edited recording of a presentation made by a Nixle sales representative to the Newtown Technology Committee. It covers all the major features of the system.

NOTE: While this service would be FREE to residents who sign up (opt-in) to use it, the cost to the Township would be $5,500 per year plus an additional one-time implementation and training fee of $500 in the first year. 

Survey Results

As of December 4, 2018, 114 responses have been received.

Q1: What is Your Town of Residence?

88% of respondents say they are residents of Newtown Township, 4% live in Wrightstown Township, and 5% live in Newtown Borough.

Q2: Would you opt-in to a FREE emergency notification service as described in this survey?

88% of all respondents - 87% of Newtown Respondents - say they would opt-in to an emergency notification service as described above. Only 6% said "No" and 7% were not sure.
Some Comments in Favor

There were 55 comments in favor of this service. Many of these comments were focused only on the preferences for receiving messages. The vast majority (80%) of respondents in favor of this service would prefer to receive notices via text on their cell phones, 14% preferred email, 6% preferred a mobile app, and 3% preferred a landline. NOTE: The total is greater than 100% because some people indicated multiple preferences.

The following are selected examples of other comments:

  • "It's about time..."
  • "I'm in favor of free emergency notifications (text preferred), except for those relating to community events. A community event is NOT an emergency & frequent notifications will dilute the impact and attention given notifications by residents. We can all find out about community events by other means (newspaper, Patch, FaceBook, etc). Thanks for the opportunity to provide feedback!"
  • "I work in NJ but my son is at CRSD and it would be helpful to receive notifications about what is going on in our town so if I need to get back in the area I can."
Some Comments Against

Four comments - all from Newtown residents - were opposed to the idea. The following are selected examples:

  • "Question 2 is misleading if the township has to pay for a luxury service such as proposed. We had lived and can still live without it. No Tax and Spend Democrats. Hold the line on taxes!"
  • "I had Nexle while living in a previous town. There were too many traffic notifications sent out. It became an annoyance so I disconnected it. The money could be better spent on Parks and Recreation."
  • "Our previous town used Nixle, and it was used to send way too many communications out that were definitely not emergencies, it became, kind of, its own social media channel. In case of real emergencies, the school's systems, Facebook and other social media are just fine for getting word out. Of course, Free is not free since the township pays for it."

Your Input Is Still Important

UPDATE: Supervisor Mack made a motion at the November 28, 2018, BOS Definition meeting to allocate $6,000 in the 2019 Budget to implement the Nixle system. The motion was tabled due to a lack of sufficient details about the product for the Supervisors to make an informed decision. The matter is likely to be brought up again in 2019 for consideration to implement the system in 2020. At that time there will be a new Chief of Police and there will be an opportunity for the Technology Committee to present its case before the Board.

If you have not taken the survey, your input is still important considering the above, so please take this short survey to let me know if you would opt-in to such a FREE service if it were available.

No identifying information is collected via this survey unless you opt-in to provide such information for purposes of follow-up by subscribing to John Mack's email newsletter.

DISCLAIMER: This is not an official Newtown Township approved survey. Its purpose is solely to inform John Mack – a Newtown Supervisor – of the public’s opinion regarding this issue.


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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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