Goodbye,Nixle; Hello, WENS


BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is going to activate a new emergency notification system Saturday. Brian Shreves, director of the Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said the department will be replacing the current system Nixle with the Wireless Emergency Notification System or WENS.

“WENS provides more options,” Shreves said. “The system is connected with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration so it generates its own messages for inclement weather, making the system faster.”

Inspiron Logistic’s website said the service uses coordinates to make sure it only sends the automatic messages to areas that will be affected by the inclement weather and administrators can alter the notifications to not go off later at night, but this option can be removed in an emergency like a tornado warning.

Shreves said the system covers more than just weather.

“This is going to be used for any emergency like school closings, if there’s an accident and a roadway is going to closed, construction, boil water advisories and anything else that needs to be known county wide,” Shreves said. WENS was created by Inspiron Logistics and their website said WENS utilizes a special GIS mapping to pinpoint certain areas that will be affected by emergencies. According to the website the GIS Mapping component will allow the administrator to define specific areas to alert for both one-time, spontaneous alerts as well as prepared messages. Shreves said messages that are not automatically sent out from the weather service are made and sent out manually by him or a 911 operator when he is unavailable. The system sends text messages, emails and a voice service is optional to people who have signed up for the service. The Inspiron Logistics website said text messages have proven to be one of the most effective way to warn of an emergency situation.

“WENS allows administrators to both send large amounts of notifications via SMS and receive responses. This feature has been solely depended on in the past during major catastrophes as the only means of communication left standing.” According to the website.

Shreves said people should sign up for the new system before it goes into effect Dec. 1 and the service is free.

“People need to sign up so they can be informed on what’s going on in the county for any kind of disasters,” he said.

To sign up for the new Upshur County  Emergency Alert System you can go to http://entry.inspironlogistics.com/upshur_wv/wens.cfm or text  UpshurCoWVAlerts to 69310.

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