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Palo Altans can sign up for emergency system

Original post made on Nov 2, 2007

Palo Alto residents and businesses can now sign up cell phone and other alternative telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for the city's new emergency-notification system.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 2, 2007, 10:13 AM

Comments (14)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2007 at 11:00 am

I was concerned when I saw that I needed to use the City web site to sign up, but it was very easy.

Hopefully it will be sometime before we see how well it works.

Well Done.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2007 at 12:53 pm

The city has to realize that this system is for EMERGENCIES. If they send out too many messages, users will remove themselves from the system.

How is the message below an emergency?
Message sent - 11/2/2007
Abduction and Sexual Assault Arrest

This is Sheryl Contois with the Palo Alto Police Department issuing a Palo Alto CANS crime alert update.

The Police Department is pleased to report that it has made an arrest in the kidnapping and sexual assault case that took place in the 500 Block of Arastradero Rd in Palo Alto on October 30, 2007.

The Police Department would like to take this opportunity to thank the community for their tremendous support and cooperation that led to apprehending this suspect.

Thank you.
To listen to the above message, you will need audio software and speakers on your computer.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2007 at 12:56 pm

I have received a phone call at home and on my cell phone and also an email with regards to the arrest of the kidnapper. If this had been something I really needed to know, I appreciate that I got the information.

The system works.

Thank you very much.

Posted by terryg, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 2, 2007 at 1:00 pm

It's not an emergency but for people who were worried about it it's a nice piece of info. I appreciated getting the call

Posted by Parent of a Gunn student, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 2, 2007 at 4:27 pm

This is very helpful for those of us who have unlisted numbers and therefore did not get these calls.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Those with unlisted numbers can sign up to get these calls and there is a number you can program into your system to enable the calls to get to you.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2007 at 9:39 pm

Echoing the post that this system should not be abused by the authorities -- it already is. How often is there an assault in which the perpetrator isn't caught right away? I received the automated call about this event miles away from me and tried to hang up but it wouldn't let me. I tried several times, but when I picked up the phone again after a long wait, the recording was still going. It appears that the system commandeers your phone line and releases it when it, not you, decides to. I could not have made an emergency call of my own until they relinquished my phone line. Unacceptable.

The city needs to use better judgment about when to use such an invasive tool. A toxic spill on 101 qualifies; an assault does not. I'm writing to the Police Dept. and asking them to take my number off their list.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2007 at 10:05 pm


I forgot to mention the most egregious misuse of this system. One could argue about whether the Arastradero incident reached the threshold of needing to telephone every household in the city, but earlier today I received another call from the system announcing that a suspect had been arrested. THAT'S NOT AN EMERGENCY. Inexcusable to use the emergency calling system for this purpose; that's what the news media are for. Someone should lose their job over this idiocy.

Posted by Unwanted interruptions, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2007 at 6:02 pm

I agree that the system should not have been used in the case of the Arastradero incident. That is not a community emergency -- a rapist doesn't go around rampaging. The announcement that he had been caught was a second unwanted interruption.
But I assume they will learn by experience and won't overuse the new toy so I'm inclined to give them a break and just let them learn.

Posted by Different Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2007 at 6:06 pm

Actually, I feel that this system was used this week as an assertion to us all that the system worked. It is far better to try it out on an iffy situation than wait for a real emergency and discover its faults. At least, we all now know the system works. Those that want to get more on their cell phones and emails know that it works. We can then depend on getting information next time we really need to know.

Far better to test it out now than to wait and see when we have real need.

Posted by Carol Mullen, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2007 at 12:11 pm

Is there a way to sign out of an automated call system? This one, and many others.

Is there a political "do not call" web site?

Posted by Parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2007 at 10:10 pm

As a parent who tries to let our children be independent (getting to/from school on their own), I very much appreciated the notification of the abduction and that the perpetrator was still on the loose... and then hearing that a suspect was apprehended. The messages on our machine were not long-winded and conveyed the relevant facts.

I think it was around 12 years ago when there was another rapist who attacked a number of women throughout Palo Alto. Perhaps a system like this would have led to a quicker arrest then?

I do not sit at my computer all the time, nor do I even check it regularly for email. A phone call or two from the city in a case like this is most welcome.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2007 at 10:31 pm

After the recent Alum Rock Quake and after Loma Prieta quake, the phone lines were saturated and nothing went through. Perhaps the city should set a priority with SMS being first, email second and voice calls last.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2007 at 9:44 am

How about using this system to warn us all about the potential of bad traffic on Saturday for the Stanford game. Many of us going about our ordinary business could avert the problem if we are warned and that will help everyone, residents and sports fans.

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