Bowie residents are now able to access the city’s new resident communication system that will send emergency alerts as well as relevant community information directly to subscribers’ phones or email inboxes.
Bowie is one of the first municipalities in Prince George’s County to pioneer the new notification system, which will replace the program used by several cities in the national capital area, said Una Cooper, Bowie’s communications coordinator. Prince George’s municipalities of Greenbelt and College Park and Montgomery County municipalities Takoma Park, Rockville and Gaithersburg also plan to launch the upgraded system soon, she said.
“The new product is, I think, more powerful and it is going to give more choices to our subscribers,” Cooper said. “It’s more modern, there’s an app you can download.”
Some of the features included in the new system are pop-up notifications for smartphones, faster and more accurate weather updates, a more intuitive interface and the ability to poll the status of residents after an emergency, Cooper said.
Residents who subscribed to the city’s previous communication system, Alert Bowie, will need to create another account for the new system, which the city is dubbing Alert Bowie 2.0, Cooper said. Currently about 6,600 of the 21,000 households in Bowie are registered for Alert Bowie — or about 30 percent — but Cooper said there is a concern the city will lose some subscribers transitioning to the new system.
“It’s going to be a process. People are busy and it’s just one more thing to do,” she said. Cooper also said some of the city’s senior residents may not be accustomed to registering for programs on new devices like smartphones or iPads.
Octavia Blake, a member of Evergreen senior community in Bowie, said she had not heard about Alert Bowie, but was interested in the program. She said she is still learning how to use her new iPad, but would be interested in having notifications emailed to her.
“I do have email. I check my email every day, twice a day,” she said. “Many of us have cellphones, iPads and all of those things. As more [tools and programs] become available and we become more aware of them, I’m sure we will take advantage of them.”
Blake said most of the members of her community currently receive their city news through the newspaper and television.
To register for Alert Bowie 2.0, visit www.cityofbowie.org/alerts.