Google now showing public safety alerts

NIXLE also offers a free iPhone app to receive alerts on the go. (Source: NIXLE)
NIXLE also offers a free iPhone app to receive alerts on the go. (Source: NIXLE)

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - A major website is now helping millions of people stay in the know when it comes to emergencies in their communities. Google announced its teaming up with the NIXLE alert company to show active alerts.

In Horry County, the Conway Police Department uses NIXLE alerts call the system a powerful public safety too. The agency uses it to warn registered users about things like accidents.

"If we have any accidents, any road closures, we use it just to alert the public so if they are traveling through the area, they can seek an alternative route," said Conway PD spokeswoman Catina Hipp.

Like Conway Police Department, thousands of public safety agencies across the country use the NIXLE alert system. It's a way for agencies to quickly get important information to people via text or email. Alerts vary, but are usually to notify the public about active fires, accidents, missing persons, and wanted criminals.

The problem is only a fraction of potential users have registered for the free service. According to NIXLE, the agencies who use the system serve more than 150 million people, yet only two million people are signed up to receive the alerts. According to North Myrtle Beach spokesman, Patrick Dowling, this is a problem in their city too.

Dowling says North Myrtle Beach started using NIXLE after the 2009 Horry County Wildfire. The public safety department wanted a new tool to reach the public in emergency situations like if a wildfire gets out of control. Today there are only about 300 people who have registered to receive alerts through text.

Dowling says now that alerts will show up on Google, it has the potential to reach a lot more people and could help spread the word about NIXLE alerts. Some agencies even say it may even boost registration

Anyone interested in registering for NIXLE Alerts can do so by visiting the company's website.

Copyright 2013 WMBF News. All rights reserved.