ITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins County has officially rolled out a new mass notification system that will send important news and updates directly to the fingertips of residents in every municipality in the county.
A second headline along with this news is that the City of Ithaca has suspended regulations of odd/even parking — a city rule often a headache to residents that accrues about $150,000 in traffic fines for the city every year. Unfortunately, residents can’t forget odd/even parking altogether, as plowing will still need to happen, but instead of the regulation being in effect all winter, it will be turned on as needed.
“We will no longer ticket folks every single night of odd/even parking. So tomorrow it was set to take effect. It will not take effect. Here’s the catch … while we will not enforce odd/even parking every night, we will be turning it on and off as needed,” Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said.
Residents who opt to use the new mass notification system, Swift 911, will be alerted via call, text and/or email that odd/even parking is in effect that night if a snowstorm is on the way. A sample message that went out Tuesday during the press conference read, “City of Ithaca: Odd/Even parking regulations are in effect until further notice. Please park on the correct side of the street. Tickets may be issued.”
Residents will also still get the memo through traditional routes, such as media or the city website.
The new system, Swift 911 is being implemented through the county’s Emergency Communications 911 Center. It will be used by the county, City of Ithaca and other municipalities in the county.
The odd/even parking notification is just one example of an alert available with the new system.
Residents can opt to receive notifications about snow emergency routes, construction updates, emergency alerts, street cleaning notifications, water notifications and Tompkins County community notifications.
What notifications residents receive will be based on their home address. If a resident signs up for alerts at their home address in the City of Ithaca, they will not receive street cleaning notifications for Dryden, for example. Residents can create multiple accounts if they want to receive notifications for other locations, however, such as their place of work.
Tompkins County Legislature Chair Mike Lane said the notification system will allow the government to send important alerts directly to residents and highlighted the initiative as “excellent example” of shared services.
“I think it’s a great day for Tompkins County,” Lane says. “(The notifications system) shows how we’re on top of these issues of emerging technology and how we can put that to use to better serve our people.”
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said the “killer application” of this technology — and the reason everyone in the City of Ithaca should sign up — is for the odd/even parking alerts.
Typically every Nov. 1, odd/even parking goes into effect. That means between 2 and 6 a.m., the city prohibits parking on the odd-numbered side of the street on odd-numbered days and the even-numbered side of the street on even-numbered days. So, if a city resident was to park their car for the night on Nov. 1, they would park on the side of the street where the house numbers are odd. The regulation is in place so plows can get down the street if need be.
“Do you know how infuriating it is to get a ticket when it’s not snowing on a pleasant night in November? Very infuriating,” Myrick said. He said it is a system that does not work well for everybody.
Myrick said this technology will allow local governments to reach residents directly.
“This technology, Swift 911, is going to allow us to actually communicate to people in a way that pushes the information instead of just relying on them to seek out and find it,” Myrick said.
Implementing this initiative has been in the works for awhile. Over the summer, funding was approved by Tompkins County Legislature. The system will cost about $20,000 annually, plus $500 to install the first year.
County officials are urging all residents to sign up for Swift 911. The county says while all “published” telephone numbers have already been uploaded into the system, many are not in the system because they have unlisted numbers or cellphones.
There are a few ways to register.
Residents can subscribe to receive these notices by registering on the Tompkins County website at www.TompkinsCountyNY.gov (Click on the Swift911 that will appear there shortly) on the City of Ithaca website at www.cityofithaca.org; or by going to mp.swiftreach.com on their mobile devices (or text “Swift911” to 99538). People signing up can either install the mobile app or enter contact information in their web browser.
Residents can also register by contacting the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response at (607) 266-2630 or email at Swift911@tompkins-co.org.
Featured image: From left, Legislature Chair Mike Lane and Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick discuss the launch of Swift 911 in Tompkins County.