Trial Runs of Malibu’s New Emergency Notification System Are Described as Successful
• Unlisted Numbers Can Be Added to Reverse 911 Database
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
On Saturday, the City of Malibu used its new emergency notification system to summon its Certified Emergency Response Training volunteers to an evacuation drill at Zuma Beach. City Emergency Services Coordinator Brad Davis said the call to take part in the mock emergency exercise had a “100 percent success rate.”
The notification system, Contact-CTY, is a form of what is often dubbed a “Reverse-911” system. It was created for Malibu and is expected to cost about $16-18,000 a year to maintain. Costs are based on census figures, Davis said.
The setup designed by the firm NTI was implemented because communication failures during last October’s Canyon Fire were, according to Davis, “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Davis acknowledged reports that Malibu residents received partial messages or, as in the case of the Malibu Surfside News lines, recordings that told them to “push button two” without saying why. If one did, nothing happened, and the call disconnected.
The new system will allow city officials to send thousands of voice mail messages to the residential and business telephone numbers in its database in a short period of time.
Only public safety messages will be sent through this system, Davis said. Wildfires, floods and significant road closures are among the types of incidents that would warrant announcements.
The city’s website (www.malibu.ca.gov), telephone hotline (310-456-9982), cable television channel (3), and the radio station (AM 1620) will continue to serve in their present capacities.
The first areawide test of the Contact-CTY system was on Tuesday, Jan. 29, when calls were made to registered numbers culled from the white pages of the local telephone directory.
Davis said 4282 calls were made with a 77 percent success rate, which he indicated is “considered high.” Only numbers with Malibu area codes and prefixes, which poses some cellular issues that are still being addressed, can be included in the database.
No unlisted or business numbers were called in that test. Davis said the city cannot legally make calls to unlisted numbers, even if Malibu is under siege. Those numbers have to be “self-registered” into the system, he added.
Cell phones are also not automatically available for inclusion in the database “because there are so many carriers,” according to Davis, but those people can also self-register their numbers.
Davis said an address can register up to five telephone numbers. E-mail addresses can also be registered. “We want to encourage everyone to self-register to the fullest extent,” he added.
The city’s goal is to have a way to contact everyone in Malibu within minutes when a crisis hits.
Those currently in the system who do not want to receive emergency notifications can opt out of it by calling 310-456-2489, extension 335.
Addition of new Malibu area numbers or the alteration of numbers that are currently in the database can be done through the city’s website.