Thursday, December 1, 2011
Montclair has launched a new system to notify residents about events and services.
The new Montclair Events and Township Services or METS relays township information using text messaging, email, Facebook, Twitter, syndication feeds and mobile applications. Municipal departments will use METS to send out notices about their events and services and residents and visitors can select what information they’ll receive.
Montclair residents can subscribe to METS at mets.montclairnjusa.org and opt to receive email and/or text messages, the township electronic newsletter, and decide from which departments or areas they would like to receive notifications.
“Subscribers can now chose to get not only text and e-mail messages, as with the old alert system, but the METS system also allows them to receive notifications via social media, TV34 and even iPhone and Android apps,” said Health Department Director Sue Portuese, whose department spearheaded the METS project. “The big plus for township departments is that they can send messages to multiple media channels in ONE step. All of this is done from a password-protected, communications-secure administrative website,” she said.
The mobile applications have been developed and will be available at a later date. "They’re awaiting approvals from Apple and Google,” said Ms. Portuese.
The METS application includes additional real-time broadcasts from dedicated RSS and atomic feeds that users may follow to receive alerts in their news aggregator programs. It also has a cartography component which displays event locations as drop pins on Google maps.
In addition, the system will post text bulletins and screen text crawl alerts to Montclair’s municipal access television station, TV34.
The social media component includes a Montclair government Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/MontclairNJGov) and a Twitter feed (www.Twitter.com/MontclairNJGov).
The METS notification system was developed by Organyk -- a Vermont based technology consulting and managed hosting company. The service was made possible through a $25,000 grant the New Jersey Health Officers Association awarded to the Township’s Health Department.
“We’re doing a full court press to get the word out,” said Ms. Portuese. “Part of the grant money was set aside to publicize the METS system and we want to get as many residents and business owners as possible to sign up.”
Residents who signed up with the old alert system can log in to their accounts or retrieve passwords to make changes to their subscriptions.