New app to inform residents about emergencies

A new app will let citizens know about emergency situations in their neighbourhoods.

Voyent Alert, which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store at no charge, can notify Humboldt residents about everything from water main breaks – and any resulting boil water advisories in the neighbourhood it happens – right up to a major disaster like a tornado or train derailment.

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“We just want to get the message out when we want to get information to you, to give you specific instructions of what we’d like you to do,” said Mike Kwasnica, Humboldt's fire chief.

Registration for the app is anonymous and no information is shared or used for marketing or data harvesting purposes. Users will have to tell the app about which locations in the city they want to know about so it knows if something happens in your area,

“You can set up your home address, work address, parents’ or kids’ address so if there’s something that’s going on within any of those addresses, it will send you an alert,” Kwasnica said.

The idea behind focusing it on location is to make sure people get alerts that interest them.

“We don’t want to send out alerts that mean nothing to you but we want to be specific to the area that you’re concerned with and you set those up on your own with the app,” Kwasnica said.

The fire chief is able to set up alerts out on the field using his phone, so he can let those in the area if there’s a traffic accident, fire or other emergency know within minutes.

There’s also different level of alerts that can range from when it’s garbage pick up day – something the city is looking at doing – right up to a major disaster.

The city is still on a trial basis with Voyent Alert, but once it’s signed into a contract, what it will pay is based on its population. Other cities of similar size, like Melfort, Warman and Kindersley, are also looking at the app.

Kwasnica encourages as many people as possible to download and register for the app.

“The more people we have on the app, the more messages we can get out and the more notifications we can tell people.”

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