Wellington, FL Relies on CivicPlus® for Hurricane Readiness Communications
Before switching to CivicPlus' Mass Notification solution, Nunez used the CodeRED Alert System.
“Our previous system was very antiquated,” said Nunez. “It was difficult to use. In an emergency, we needed something that would allow us to get a message out quickly and in a coherent fashion. We also didn’t have control over our list of residents, which made managing our communications very difficult.”
After the Village of Wellington completed a redesign of its website with CivicPlus, Nunez was inspired to transition from CodeRED to CivicPlus.
“We saw what CivicPlus was able to do for us with our website redesign, so we thought, why not work with CivicPlus on a refresh of our alert system too?”
Switching from CodeRED to CivicPlus
Every technology transition requires a thorough strategy. For Nunez, the switch to CivicPlus was comfortingly streamlined.
“The transition was so simple and easy,” said Nunez. “Since we didn’t own our data with our previous software, I worried it would be difficult to, essentially, start over with a new system with no contacts, but [CivicPlus] was able to provide us with a contact list for our community’s residents. It was helpful not to start from scratch.”
In cases such as Wellington’s, where a municipality needs to begin building a resident database, CivicPlus leverages community utility databases, including billing and 911/MSAG lists, and purchased residential lists. With its foundation of new resident contact information, Wellington has been continually adding voluntary subscriptions.
“With [CivicPlus], it’s simple and easy to get residents to subscribe, especially with the text to sign up feature.”
Confident Hurricane and Disaster Preparedness with CivicPlus
To ensure its residents and administrative staff are prepared for hurricane season, the Village of Wellington holds an annual community-wide town hall meeting at the start of the season to provide educational reminders, evacuation instructions, and safety best practices.
“I encourage residents to sign up for alerts from [CivicPlus] to stay informed during hurricane season. Social media is important when communicating information publicly, but we have many residents who are not on social media, especially our seniors. What is valuable to us about [CivicPlus] is that it allows users to choose their communication preferences. Residents can choose text message alerts, messaging through the AlertMe app, or automated phone messages. The phone message functionality has been very well received and appreciated by residents, and particularly our seniors who want to ensure that they receive alerts even if they are in an area without Internet access.”
Wellington put the CivicPlus Mass Notification system to its first crucial test in November 2019 when Hurricane Dorian attacked South Florida.
“Fortunately, we were not directly affected by Hurricane Dorian,” said Nunez. “Disaster preparedness and communications are always our top priorities. We are committed to ensuring our residents feel prepared and ready to weather any storm. We want to always be proactive in our warnings, which is why we rely on [CivicPlus] to help us get people prepared.”
Routine and Internal Staff Communications
Much more than an emergency alert system, CivicPlus' software includes internal staff collaboration functionality as well, such as conference bridge capabilities and real-time, two-way group messaging. The Village of Wellington is looking to fully leverage the system's capabilities to help their departments collaborate and communicate effectively in both times of routine resident services and disaster response.
“We’re looking at how our Community Services and Parks and Recreation departments can use [the CivicPlus Mass Notification system],” said Nunez. “After seeing what the tool is doing for us during emergencies and how it’s helping us reach residents, we’re excited to look for ways these departments can use [CivicPlus] to set up unique contact lists and help facilitate day-to-day communications with staff and community volunteers.”
The Village of Wellington’s Human Resources Department is also looking to leverage CivicPlus' Mass Notification system to communicate with staff during emergency events.
“[CivicPlus] is a wonderful internal communication tool. It could help our HR team during a local disaster to send urgent messages to employees, for example, if staff need to report to work after an event, or not report to work if there are closures or damage to buildings.”
The Need for Reliable Mass Communications in Local Government
For Nunez, in her critical role as a public communicator, there is extreme value in the software's ability to issue one-to-many, multiple-channel communications managed from a single interface.
“We live in a world where, unfortunately, it’s not a question of if an emergency will happen, but when. Communities need to prepare, just like we tell our residents to prepare well before the storm. It’s critical to have a system you can rely on that will help you reach as many citizens as possible through as many channels as possible. Every municipality should have such a system.”
For Nunez, she feels confident knowing she has a reliable partner with CivicPlus.
“With CivicPlus...we know they have a long-standing track record of success with municipalities. We knew we could rely on them and trust them because they know what public organizations need, and they know how to deliver.”