Watching Police Chief Timothy Wenzel has recommended the implementation of the Nixle system to deliver messages directly to residents during times of emergencies.
Nixle, a free service, is already used by several Somerset County police departments, Wenzel told the Borough Council last week.
The information can be sent either by email or text message, Wenzel said. Residents who want to receive the information can choose which method they want to use.
Residents can also choose to receive information from more than one town.
For example, the chief explained, Nixle can send out a message if a road is closed and other information during an emergency.
Hillsborough has been using the service for four years, Wenzel said. He said he talked to Chief Paul Kaminsky who “absolutely loves it.”
In Hillsborough, dispatchers immediately transmit a message when they receive information such as a road closed because of an accident.
For example, during the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Far Hills police sent messages about the availability of emergency aid, including water supply and charging capability, and once power crews arrived, the location of where they were working.
“I can’t see a downside to it,” Wenzel said.
Other Somerset County towns using Nixle include Green Brook, Branchburg, Bridgewater, Bound Brook and Raritan.
In the wake of Sandy, Mayor Gerald Mobus created committees to assess the borough’s response to the storm. One of those committees will study ways to improve communication between the borough and residents.
Nixle describes itself as a nationwide “community information service” that connects residents to their police department, school system and government. Only authenticated agencies and community organizations can securely publish information through the Nixle system.
There are four types of Nixle messages: alerts (many would refer to this as an emergency type alert), advisories (less urgent need-to-know information), community Information (day-to-day neighborhood to community-level information), traffic (very localized traffic information).
There is no charge for residents who register for the NIxle service.
The police chief will attend a meeting on the Nixle service in South Brunswick on Dec. 11.