Paul Morden
Sarnia Observer

There will be a change in 2021 to non-emergency notifications on the MyCNN system for Sarnia users.

Beginning in January, the system will no longer send text messages about non-emergency notices, such as streets closed for construction, because of changes by the system’s provider, Everbridge.

City residents who have signed up for non-emergency notices from MyCNN are being urged to download an app at the city’s website or switch to the email option to ensure they continue receiving that information.There’s no change in the system’s emergency notifications for severe weather, missing persons, evacuations or shelter-in-place orders. They will continue to be available as text messages, said Ron Realesmith, head of the city’s emergency management office.

“All emergency alerts will still go through the traditional means. … That’s not going away,” he said. “If you signed up for this because you wanted to be alerted for emergencies, you’re still going to be alerted. That’s not changing.”

The change to how non-emergency notices are sent follows moves in recent years by major telephone companies to add text surcharges to vendors sending out text messages, the city said.“That’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” Realesmith said.

MyCNN was launched in the Sarnia area in 2014 by Community Awareness Emergency Response, a group of local industries and government agencies, with technology being used in several North American communities to alert residents.

In an emergency, the system calls numbers from the local telephone directories, as well as sends out notifications to those who have signed up online.

A link to sign up for MyCNN is posted at caer.ca. Users select how they wish to receive notices when setting up an account for the free-to-use service.

“In Lambton County alone, we’ve got just shy of 12,000 people who have signed up,” Realesmith said. “However, we have 57,000 people in the system because what we do every year is we import all the white pages data for all of Lambton County.”

One of the options the system offers is allowing individual municipalities to send residents non-emergency notifications for things such as roads closed for repairs or construction, flooding, and others.

The upcoming change to those non-emergency notices in the city is just “the next progression” in the notification system, Realesmith said.

“Everbridge has come out with this really good app, so now we just want to start pushing that.”

Links to download the app can be found online at www.sarnia.ca/my-community-notification-network.

Original Article: https://www.theobserver.ca/news/local-news/sarnia-users-of-mycnn-notification-system-urged-to-download-app