Notification deal on Clute agenda

By Jason Smith
The Facts
 

Published January 30, 2007
 

CLUTE — Residents could get police, news and emergency information alerts via e-mail, text messages and pagers if Clute officials move forward with a notification system being considered.

Clute-based Read Communications, L.L.C. gave a presentation recently to City Council about installing an e-mail notification system the company created called GroupBuilder.net.

Although council members said such a service could be beneficial to the city and its residents, they opted to have the company submit a contract for the city attorney to review before taking action at its next council meeting.

The service would cost the city an annual subscription fee of $2,500 and a one-time setup fee of $1,000.

The subscription would be for an unlimited number of subscribers, with no cost to the public.

If the city decided to use GroupBuilder.net, residents would have to subscribe by logging on to the city’s Web site, clicking on the subscription icon and entering their e-mail address to begin receiving notifications. Residents would not receive e-mails if they do not subscribe.

“The more cities use it, the more citizens find out and decide to put their e-mail on the list,” said David Read, president of Read Communications. “You have to use it regularly to get the public to use it.”

It would enable the city to send e-mail and text messages to e-mail addresses, cell phones equipped to receive e-mails, pagers and PDAs to the public and private groups, Read said.

“The service is a Web-based collection and distribution system,” he said.

His wife, Brenda Read, added “In case of a crisis, people are gone from the city. So how would you get information out to them? It gives cities a tool to communicate quickly.”

Other Houston-area governments subscribe to the service as well. They include Deer Park, Kemah, Friendswood, Pearland and Brazoria County.

Friendswood has more than 11,000 subscribers in its database who use the system regularly.

“During the Rita evacuation, the city could have used it,” David Read said. “The only way to communicate with residents during times like that is through your Web site and e-mail.”

There is no limit to the number of e-mails the city can send, and no hardware is required for the city to use it. It is strictly Web- based and integrates into the city’s Web site so subscription management is automated, David Read said.

“It seems like the city could benefit from a system like this,” Councilman Travis Quinn said.

Clute also looked at a proposal from the company to redesign the city’s existing Web site to integrate with the GroupBuilder.net service. The site would undergo graphic design, navigation and menu design and content integration.

There would be easy navigation and easy maintenance to the site once the system has been updated. Any city official granted access to update the site can do so by logging on, picking the system to edit, making necessary changes and clicking the save button.

“It looks like a good service,” said Councilman David Culpepper. “It sounds extremely easy.”

The redesign would cost $4,400, while hosting the site would cost $240 a year.

Jason Smith covers Clute for The Facts. Contact him at (979) 237-0150.

 

 

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