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City Council Office
 Policy Order Resolution
  O-13
  IN CITY COUNCIL
  September 9, 2013
VICE MAYOR SIMMONS

 

WHEREAS:

In the days immediately following the Boston Marathon bombing, and in the wake of a violent weekend in Cambridge last June, it became apparent that the City needs to improve upon its existing outlets for broadcasting and distributing timely and accurate information to its residents, in order to keep people safe, well-informed, and to ensure that false information does not have an opportunity to take hold and spread; and

    
WHEREAS:

Over the past several years, the City has made great strides in creating systems for distributing information and broadcasting emergency alerts. This includes the establishment of an official City Facebook page, Twitter feeds for various City departments, alerts posted on the City's webpage, and the Cambridge Alert Network, which allows residents to sign-up for emergency alerts; and

       
WHEREAS:

The individual city councilors also each have their own Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and email lists to broadcast important information to their constituents in times of emergency; and

      
WHEREAS:

Despite these many informational outlets, there is still room for improvement, and residents have recently reported some confusion as to which outlet to turn to when an emergency strikes and time is of the essence; and

      
WHEREAS: Communities such as New Palz, NY and Fairfax, VA, as well as several university campuses across the country, have established emergency telephone hotlines that residents can call at any hour of the day to hear recorded announcements about breaking events, citywide emergencies, road closings, inclement weather warnings, and so forth; and
      
WHEREAS: These emergency hotlines, when properly advertised to the community, have the advantage of providing all residents with an easy way of obtaining timely, accurate information, bypassing the need to search through various departmental Twitter feeds and Facebook posts, as well as the stress of figuring out which outlet is most likely to have the information being sought; and
 

WHEREAS:

Such an emergency hotline would be equally friendly to tech-savvy individuals and to those who do not own or have access to a computer; now therefore be it

      

ORDERED:

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with the appropriate City personnel and to then report back to the City Council on the feasibility of establishing an emergency City telephone hotline that residents can contact in times of emergency for timely and accurate information.

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