May 4, 2023
Public Information Unit, 303-441-1500
Improvements made to county-wide alert and warning systems since the Marshall Fire
Boulder County, Colo. - Multiple improvements have been made to the alert and warning systems used by the four Public Safety Answering Points, or PSAP’s (911 dispatch centers) in Boulder County in the aftermath of the Marshall Fire. Some of these changes were already being worked on prior to the fire, and some of the updates have been made since the fire.
“Since the Marshall Fire, there has been a tremendous amount of effort put towards making sure we can warn the community when there is an emergency. The collaborative approach to this work has created a system that can work across jurisdictional boundaries,” said Boulder County Sheriff Curtis Johnson.
Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Implementation
Boulder County Communications, Boulder Police and Fire Communications, and Longmont Emergency Communications completed the implementation of IPAWS in April of 2022. This system allows 911 staff to send notifications for imminent life threats through Wireless Emergency Alerts (Amber-Alert Style), Emergency Alert System (broadcast radio and television) and NOAA Weather Radios at the request of local law enforcement and fire personnel.
The ReachWell translation app is now available to download and receive emergency alerts in over 100 languages/dialects. Alerts are automatically sent to the app, where users can access the content in their preferred language. Alerts are received by opting into a unique ReachWell group and do not require sharing your location. This application will deliver every notification sent from the Boulder County Communications, Boulder Police and Fire Communications, and Longmont Emergency Communications.
Google Translate is available on all www.BoulderOEM.com web pages. Click on the drop-down menu, “Select Language” in upper right-hand corner of website to select your preferred language.
All Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) messages will be translated for community members and visitors that set their mobile device preferred language to Spanish.
Updates to Everbridge
Everbridge is the software used to send emergency alerts to landlines, cell phones, text, TTY/TDD, emails, or faxes. Community members, who are not already registered, are encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts by going to www.BOCOAlert.org.
Everbridge Resident Connection has also been added to our package plan. Resident Connection is a database of publicly sourced information that aggregates residential and business phone numbers that can be utilized to send out emergency alerts to impacted areas. The phone numbers in this database will automatically receive text messages and voice alerts when an emergency alert is sent, however, Resident Connection is not a substitute for opting into messages at www.BOCOAlert.org .
Emergency alert messages and an interactive map are now automatically posted to the www.BOCOAlert.org website, anytime an emergency alert is sent in Boulder County using the Everbridge software. Each alert will contain a web address to access more information about the specific alert. The entire content of the alert is posted, so people who only received a 90-character message can view the complete content. The alerts and map capture the moment in time when it was sent and do not update as the status changes. As additional alerts are sent, they are posted in chronological order.
Public Safety Leader Partnerships
We have collaborated with all Boulder County law and fire agency stakeholders to develop consistent policies and practices for launching emergency alerts, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.
Planning sessions and tabletop exercises were held with first responders from Boulder, Larimer, Weld, and Broomfield Counties. These experiences allowed officials to work through potential issues and streamline business practices in the event we have an incident that crosses county lines.
All Boulder County PSAP’s can provide real-time support and back-up for each other. All PSAP’s have common business practices and use the same alerting terminology. This allows one center to send an emergency alert for another, if they are overwhelmed during a major incident.
Rebranding and Updated Education
Streamlining alert and warning sign-up and educational information in a county that has over 30 different police, fire, EMS, and search and rescue agencies had become difficult. To help minimize the complexity, the four Boulder County PSAP’s rebranded the alert and warning materials as, “BOCO Alert.” You can sign-up for emergency alerts or review additional information at: www.BOCOAlert.org.
Outdoor Warning Sirens
Some of the outdoor emergency warning sirens have been reprogrammed, according to each community’s preference of when the sirens may be utilized (e.g. add an option for use during wildfires). The sirens are in the communities of: Boulder, Eldorado Springs, Erie, Jamestown, Lafayette, Louisville, Lyons, and Superior. For specific information about your community’s siren, contact your local municipality, police or fire agency administration.
Public safety officials have developed pre-defined alerting areas for the entire county. These puzzle-piece-like shapes help first responders quickly communicate the location of alert distribution to their 911 center. The western half of Boulder County already had the areas identified, but now the entire county is complete. Additionally, the shapes were re-engineered to ensure compliance for the IPAWS system. Lastly, the pre-determined flood areas were also revamped for the same compliance factors.
If you already have an Everbridge account, please login at: www.BOCOAlert.org to review the addresses and contact information for receiving alerts.
If you need assistance logging in to your Everbridge account, or have specific questions, use the following contact information for your jurisdiction:
- City of Boulder: firstname.lastname@example.org
- City of Longmont: Kenneth.Nichols@longmontcolorado.gov
- Unincorporated Boulder County, Erie, Lafayette, Louisville, Lyons, Nederland, Superior, and Ward: AlertHelp@BoulderCounty.org
- ReachWell Flyer (English and Spanish): https://assets.bouldercounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/BOCO-alert-reachwell-flyer.pdf
- How to Stay Informed with Emergency Alerts (English): https://assets.bouldercounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/how-to-stay-informed-emergency-alerts.pdf
- How to Stay Informed with Emergency Alerts (Spanish): https://assets.bouldercounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/how-to-stay-informed-emergency-alerts-spanish.pdf
- Understanding Emergency Alerting System (English): https://assets.bouldercounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/understanding-emergency-alerting-systems.pdf
- Understanding Emergency Alerting System (Spanish): https://assets.bouldercounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/understanding-emergency-alerting-systems-spanish.pdf