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Thursday 6 June, 2019
Last week, the Ashburton District Council launched a new text/SMS alert service that allows residents to receive targeted text messages – free of charge, about critical services and issues in their area. To join, all you need to do is text your postcode to ‘4196’.
By opting into the service, you’ll receive important notifications such as boil water notices, road closures, health and safety matters, and emergency-related activities in your area straight to your mobile phone. It is available to all New Zealand cell phone numbers and doesn’t require you to download anything or manage an account.
Phones are increasingly a fundamental part of our lives, and it makes sense that you can have targeted and timely messages sent straight to your device about services that could impact you. This is so far proving to be a popular system for residents.
In the short time that the text/SMS service has been available, adoption has been strong. It has so far attracted almost three-times the number of subscribers than our previously used mobile app.
The text alert system doesn’t require people to own a smart phone, download an app, have a data plan, and Internet coverage to receive alerts, as access to a basic cell phone service is all that’s required.
Given the rural nature of much of our district, it made sense that transitioning to a quick and easy text/SMS system would not only be more convenient for residents, but would also reach more people who live in areas with potentially limited Internet access.
To understand the convenience and necessity of such a service, we only need to look at what happened in the days that followed the launch of the new system.
After a soft launch on Friday (31 May), the district was hit with heavy rain, freezing temperatures and snow, which resulted in rural road closures and a precautionary boil water notice for the Methven Township.
The text alert system allowed us to get that critical information out to affected areas and let residents know what was happening in their part of the district.
The texts also accompanied our other communication efforts on social media, the Council website and traditional media to ensure people outside of the affected postcode areas could access the information as well.
Our free text/SMS alert system is replacing the currently used Antenno app, which will no longer be used from 1 September 2019. I encourage anyone who has Antenno to opt-in to the new text service so that you can continue receiving important Council notifications.
You can also receive alerts for multiple postcode areas. Just individually text them to ‘4196’. To remove any of those areas, simply text ‘STOP’ and the postcode to ‘4196’. For example ‘STOP 7700’.
Alternatively, to receive any and all alerts for the district, text ‘#alertme’ to ‘4196’.
We are very excited to have our new text/SMS alert service available for the community. Make sure you are getting the latest critical information for your area by opting in today.