Friday, September 17, 2010

Wakeup calls

Posted By on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 11:35 AM

You know those robo-calls? The ones that encourage you to sign up for a new credit card or speak with grave concern about the record of an area politician?

What if they could be used for good? That was the thinking behind the $66,000 department of Homeland Security Grant given to Spokane County. As of January 1, the county implemented a system through Twenty First Century Communications, in Columbus, Ohio. If there, say, is a tornado ready to rip through Hillyard or a volcano erupting up from the ground in Latah Creek, the county can send an AlertSpokane message to warn the citizenry.

“The dispatch commander draws a polygon or circle on a GIS map,” Lorlee Mizell, director of 911 communications, says. “Then it calls the phone numbers within that map.”

Already, it’s been used once this year, to warn the Northwood neighborhood after a murderer barricaded himself in his home nearby.

But the system only automatically has the numbers for landlines. Yes, those relics from the days of rotary dialers and phone books. Now, the county is campaigning for citizens to sign up for the service using their e-mail address, their cell phone number, or their Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) digital voice number.

Sign up at There’s still no support for Skype, instant messaging, text messaging, for now.


Witness to Wartime: The Painted Diary of Takuichi Fujii @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, staff writer Daniel Walters is the Inlander's City Hall reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...