Ramsey County uses CodeRED for community alerts

The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with CodeRED to provide county-wide community alerts and notifications.

Originally designed to enable local government officials to record, send and track personalized messages to thousands of citizens in minutes using high-speed community notifications, CodeRED’s user base has grown to include institutions of higher learning and utility companies.

Ramsey County is using the technology to notify people in specific geographic areas about public safety alerts -- lost abducted or missing children or vulnerable adults; sex (predatory) offender notifications; crime alerts for neighborhoods and businesses; natural disasters, fires, evacuations and pandemics, for example.

“We were looking for a tool that was robust enough for us to get public safety information out quickly,” Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Randy Gustafson said. “Using this technology allows us to reach out to the public with a timely message.”

Gustafson said CodeRED software has the ability to send out thousands of phone or text messages per minute.

“It’s pretty slick. Since the department instituted CodeRED in 2012 we have used it for things like finding an autistic child that went missing and to notify neighborhoods when a burglary was taking place, telling residents to lock doors and they then receive notification when we have someone in custody” he said.

Recently the city of Minneapolis used CodeRED to notify residents when a water main broke downtown and flooded several blocks. Downtown residents and business owners were notified of the situation immediately and warned not to drink the water that had become contaminated.

Later the Minneapolis Police Department used CodeRED to let people know which areas had been cleared and which areas to avoid until the workers had fixed the main and cleaned up the area.

CodeRED works by using residential or commercial addresses to send targeted messages. When a person signs up, he or she enters their home and work addresses, along with their landline and mobile phone numbers and email addresses. This ensures that alerts and notifications are received when needed.

Stephanie Meyers, Marketing Manager for the Florida based Emergency Communications Network — the CodeRED service provider — said CodeRED is experiencing rapid expansion and is available in every state (including 35 Minnesota counties) and most of Canada.

Users can receive notifications via text, email or phone anywhere in the country. There is also a free CodeRED mobile alert application available for Android and iPhone users.

“You can be traveling anywhere in the country and pick up any active CodeRED alerts in the area you are in,” she said.

Gustafson said that due to recent data privacy legislation, any personal data must remain private and cannot be made public to anyone.

“There’s no spam or unsolicited phone calls. The list of individuals will not be used for anything else but notifications,” Gustafson explained.

To sign up for CodeRED, or for more information, go to www.co.ramsey.mn.us/sheriff/alerts/index.htm. Registration is free, quick, secure and confidential. Localized or countywide messages are sent dependent upon need.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824.

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