Getting Emergency Notifications from the Polk County Sherriff’s Office

This morning, the Polk County Sherriff’s Office added an instant notification service that delivers emergency text messages and emails to concerned citizens.

The free service allows residents and workers in Polk County to request notices when the PCSO has an emergency situation near their home or place of business. The PCSO service doesn’t track your location, but uses addresses you supply. Donna Wood, PCSO Public Information Officer, said the office can send registered users alerts about road closures, school lock downs, and other similar emergency situations. The PCSO will decide on a case by case basis how far to extend the notification, but can send notices to those two to twenty miles from the scene. The office also has the ability to notify every registered user.

The service was offered free to the county by Nixle, “a community information service provider built exclusively to provide secure and reliable communications. It is the first authenticated and secure service that connects municipal agencies and community organizations to residents in real time, delivering information to geographically targeted consumers over their cell phones (via text messages), through e-mails and via Web access.” (Information supplied by the company at Nixle.com

Wood said various PCSO members will have access to the system to send select alerts, announcements and advisories. Wood emphasized that the office will be careful to notify only the areas concerned, “If you’re in Lakeland, you don’t want to get notice of a road closure in Lake Wales.”

Though PCSO is currently the only sending organization in Polk County, the service would allow users to register once and get notices from other emergency assistance providers. Registration takes a few moments and requires only basic information. It’s easy to enter your home and work addresses. Users can choose to have only email notices sent or can get SMS messages delivered at the normal text messaging costs.

Wood did remind those using the system that the PCSO recommends that you to pull over before reading any text messages…even their emergency notifications.