LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Since November 2017, Lubbock has utilized a new emergency notification system to ensure citizens receive important information through a variety of contact methods, including text messages, email and phone calls.
But, most of those alerts sent, including for SWAT situations and major accidents, have a gap of 15 minutes in between messages sent to each preferred method of contact.
KCBD asked the city to explain the time interval.
LBKAlert was designed to send an alert's notifications to a subscriber in at least two ways. Users can register to get a text, call, or email in the user's desired order. The alert's notifications go through each method until the user responds.
"If they send an emergency notification and they sent that to your phone as a text message, at the end of that text message it will likely say to 'reply yes to confirm'," City of Lubbock Communications and Marketing Manger Ben Lawson said. "If the user doesn't reply 'yes', after the certain amount of time designated for that message, it will move on to the next contact message."
"Let's say you are signed up for a text message and voice call, it will move on to that one. There it also gives you an option to reply 'yes'. If you don't reply 'yes' it will continue to cycle until it goes through all of your methods. The whole goal of that is if in an emergency situation, we want to make sure you get that message, so it's going to try to reach you on all the ways you've chosen for us to reach you..."
The Lubbock Police Department has been the most frequent of city entities to send LBKAlerts. LPD says it and other city departments can control the amount of time between those notifications.
"We can change that from one to 15 minutes depending on the situation," Public Information Officer Tiffany Taylor said. "The more urgent cases we would make that the quickest so that we know if you didn't get that text message, you're going to get that call, you're going to get that email because we need to get you that information as quickly as possible. But, for things that may not need such an urgent response, we're going to expand that so that it's not so much as an inconvenience where you are getting a text, phone call and an email all at once."
Alerts sent with less of a time interval include messages about a missing child in December as well as the Loop 289 closure for the Mayor's Marathon in April. LPD says the decision to send an alert and with what time interval is made on a case-by-case basis and with information gathered from officials involved in dealing with the emergency.
"Every case is different," Taylor said. "There may be certain things we do for one alert that we don't do for the other. For example, if it was a missing child or if it was something extremely urgent, like we needed people to evacuate an area, we would obviously send that alert out as quickly as possible."
LBKAlert is also utilized to send notifications to those subscribing to non-emergency messages. That includes events, street closures or health matters. Those messages can changed or added by editing the settings of your account. Most of the non-emergency messages are set to only go to the first method of contact.
"When I send an event notification it sends to that person's first choice, a majority of those are text messages and then I stop that notification after that first cycle," Lawson said. "That way it's not coming over again, again and again."
The city encourages more people to sign up and consider your methods of contact carefully. That may include adding a family member's contact information as one of those methods.
To sign up, or edit your account click here.