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Kansas City Launches Text Alert Service

Ikhlasul Amal

Monday marked the launch of the City of Kansas City, Mo.'s new community notification service. Called Nixle, the service will provide neighborhood-specific information down to the 1/4-mile via emails and text messages.

Residents who subscribe to the service can be alerted to urgent situations such as boil orders and health pandemics, the City Communications Office said in its release, though the service will not provide severe weather alerts. Advisories will be sent regarding water main breaks, major road closures, snow ordinances, food and drug recalls and unscheduled city office closures. Neighborhood notifications about trash delays, city-sponsored events, back-to-school vaccination clinics and more will also be sent through the service.

Subscribers can decide which information they do and don't want to receive through the website once they've registered for the service. Residents can also decide whether they want to receive texts or emails or both.

More than 4,600 government agencies in U.S. cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia use Nixle for public notification systems. In 2007, Chula Vista, Calif. was the first town to adopt the technology. When a Chula Vista woman with Alzheimer's went missing, the police department used the alert system to message all subscribers who lived within one mile of the woman's address. When no one responded, the area was extended to five miles, and the woman was found. 

Police in Amarillo, Tex. apprehended a fugitive in 2009 with the help of a local alert service subscriber.

The service is free to Kansas City, Mo. residents, though standard texting rates will apply. People can register now by texting their zip codes to "888777," or by visiting www.nixle.com.

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