Newtown News Update

Welcome to the November 28, 2018, issue of Newtown News Update. Back issues and subscribing information can be found here.  If you do not wish to receive further updates, please use the "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom of this email.

The opinions expressed here are solely the those of John Mack and do not reflect the opinions of any other person or entity.

Nixle Keeps Residents Informed

Recently, there have been several emergency or near emergency situations in Newtown Township. On March 7, 2018, during a snow emergency power failure, the Township Building was open as a “warming center,” but before any township residents were made aware of this, power was restored; on October 5, 2018, the Bucks County Community College was locked down due to a supposed terrorist threat, but residents did not get immediate alerts sent to their cell phones; on October 24, 2018, Swamp Road and Route 413 experienced significant traffic delays due to an accident, but many residents were unaware of the problem; during the "surprise" November 15, 2018, snow storm, almost all major roads in the Township were inhibited in one way or another throughout the day by volume and stuck vehicles. Again, residents were not adequately notified until it was too late.

The list goes on. And although the Newtown Police Department and/or the Township Manager were able to post information about some of these events on Twitter and Facebook or via email to homeowner association management companies (with the hope that the messages would passed along to resident members), these notices reached a limited number of residents, reached them too late, or never reached them at all.

Not only is there a limited ability for the Newtown Police and Administration Departments to send out emergency and other notices to residents, there is limited ability of residents to easily communicate information to the Township and be assured that a record is kept of each contact.

The Newtown Technology Committee has been investigating services that can solve these problems by sending notices to residents about active shooters, traffic incidents, community events, severe weather alerts, missing persons, etc., via text, mobile apps, email, voice, Twitter, and Facebook (depending on personal preferences). The system recommended by the Committee is Nixle, which is used by over 8,000 communities across the country. For more information download the Nixle data sheet.

Such a service would cost Newtown Township about $5,000 per year (plus an additional $500 for training in the first year). The service is FREE to residents who sign up (opt-in) to use it. Is it worth it?

Recently, I spoke with the Chief of a Regional Police Department that uses Nixle. According to him, "Nixle has been working very well for us. We purchased this service and permit the three municipalities in the region to also post notices/alerts through our system.  All officers can post an alert. The system is very easy to use, especially the mobile application. I have already used Nixle's mobile app from my car while traveling to the scene of an event."

Citizens and residents from surrounding municipalities can opt in to receive mobile, email or hard line phone notifications. His department created information cards and officers hand them out at community events to make people aware of the system.

"I would say that Nixle is a benefit and cost appropriate," said the Chief.

Why Not Newtown?

So, should Newtown subscribe to Nixle to instantly send out Emergency Alerts, Advisories (less urgent need-to-know information), Community Information (day-to-day neighborhood to community-level information), Traffic (very localized traffic information), etc? 

Please take a short survey to let me know if you would opt-in to such a service if it were available to residents.

No identifying information is collected via this survey unless you opt-in to provide such information for purposes of follow-up by subscribing to John Mack's email newsletter.

DISCLAIMER: This is not an official Newtown Township approved survey. Its purpose is solely to inform John Mack – a Newtown Supervisor – of the public’s opinion regarding this issue.

Take the Emergency Notification Service Survey

November 28, 2018, BOS Meeting

The Newtown Board of Supervisors will meet on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at 7:00 PM in the Public Meeting Room in the township building, located at 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA. 

On the agenda is a discussion of the preliminary draft 2019 budget (download it here). This is one of the last times the public will be able to comment on the budget and support the inclusion of services such as Nixle.

Also on the agenda will be a vote on adoption of 3 new JMZO ordinances:

  1. Medical Marijuana
  2. Fireworks
  3. Conservation Easement

For background on these ordinances, read "Three New JMZO Ordinances Up for a Vote by Newtown Supervisors".

Last, but not least, is consideration to adopt an anti-discrimination ordinance. For more on that, read "Newtown Supervisors to Vote on Anti-Discrimination Ordinance".

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John Mack