NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The North Myrtle Beach Police department is holding a test of its Nixle Emergency Alert System on Monday to get ready for the peak of hurricane season. The test will be sent out between 1 and 2 p.m. Monday to landline phones and to people who are registered with Nixle.
North Myrtle Beach has had Nixle for several years, but upgraded the alert system this year to include the automatic alerts. The automatic alerts are sent to landlines and people who have the Google Maps phone applications, whether you've signed up for Nixle online or not. Alerts received that are 'automatic' are reserved for only the most severe of emergencies and sent by the chiefs of the fire or police department. The common traffic and weather alerts are sent by dispatch.
To receive an automatic alert, the police can draw a shape over a certain area of a map. It's called a 'geo-fence.' Nixle will then send an alert to every landline phone and cell phone with the Google Maps app turned on.
"If it's a city-wide message, then we don't draw it we don't need it, we don't have to draw a geo-fence. You just push it out city-wide. But if we want to locate it to a specific area, then we can draw a geo-fence around it and only those people in that area will get that notification...and say someone was driving through, those people will also get the notification," North Myrtle Beach Police Chief J. Phillip Webster said.
The number of Nixle users is slowly growing, but Chief Webster said he wishes more people would sign up. About 1,800 people are registered now, up 200 since the spring.
Chief Webster said although there are more people signed up, he's heard of people deleting Nixle because of the amounts of messages or because messages are received repeatedly throughout the night.
There is a way to control the times you receive alerts.
To get Nixle., go to www.nixle.com. It tells you how to sign up for alert texts on the home page. If you want emails or to add a landline, you need to register. If you register, you can choose when you receive text messages. Once you register, all you do is click the 'accounts' tab and you'll see 'phone notifications.' Then, choose when you wish not to receive alerts and advisories. You can also turn-off email alerts from that page. If you don't have Nixle, you won't receive any alert unless you have the Google Maps app and it's turned on.