More cities using targeted emergency alert systems

OLIVETTE, MO (KTVI) - New Yorkers were alerted to details about a bombing suspect Monday morning by a national system called the Wireless Emergency Alerts system.

The system is typically used to issue Amber Alerts and severe weather warnings.  Pre-authorized national, state or local agencies can send alerts.  When an alert is sent, it can be received by cell phones near cell towers in the affected area.

The city of Olivette is also capable of sending alerts directly to its citizens through a system called CodeRED.   The system allows citizens to sign up for alerts, and choose which types of alerts they wish to receive.

Olivette Police Lt. David Wolf said the system has proven to be helpful.  He said the system was recently used to notify residents about a water boil order.  He said the system has also been used to warn citizens about a burglary suspect.

The CodeRED system also allows the department to send out an alert to a specific area.   Wolf said the system recently warned residents about a gas leak in one part of town.  He said the city is also mindful of not sending out too many alerts.

“You don`t want to create the boy who cried wolf syndrome, where people ignore your messages because they’re coming too frequently.”