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City launches app to alert residents of localized emergencies

Subscribers to the app receive information about severe weather events, large-scale power outages and health outbreaks, as well as large fires and hazardous material spills

Details can make all the difference in emergency situations.

It’s with this in mind that city officials recently launched the free Alert Guelph public alert system to put important information in the hands of residents.

“It allows us to … target (information) to specific streets or neighbourhoods,” said Brendan MacMullin, the city’s community emergency management coordinator.

The service, which is provided through the Voyent Alert! app, will see subscribers receive personalized information about severe weather events, large-scale power outages and health outbreaks, as well as large fires and hazardous material spills.

Details to be provided include distance and direction from an incident, as well as recommended evacuation routes if necessary.

As this system is designed to along with existing alerts, there won’t be regular weather or Amber Alerts provided, MacMullin noted.

Multiple locations can be tracked through the app, such as work and home, schools, the homes of loved ones, etc. Notifications will be sent using the subscriber’s preferred method, such as text, email, voice calls or push notifications.

“If you work in Guelph, but don’t call the city home, subscribe using your business postal code during registration as the system can’t push Guelph-specific alerts to postal codes outside the city,” notes a post on the city’s website.

The system was set to launch just before the pandemic struck in early 2020, MacMullin said.

“We kind of put this on hold,” he explained. “This is a continuation of the initial rollout.”

Voyent Alert!, which includes Alert Guelph, is available for download through Google Play for Android devices and the App Store for iSO systems.