Village responds to resident feedback
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (October 2017) – Despite the name, Lansing’s Code Red system is not only about emergency alerts. The program offers a variety of news-sharing features for residents who sign up. Director of Communications Ken Reynolds would like to “blow the dust off” the system and use it for communicating important information via text message. “Many of our residents want information to be delivered via text,” said Reynolds at a Chamber luncheon where he was discussing the system.
Code Red was actually implemented in Lansing in 2014, and the Police Department has been the primary user—furthering the perception that it is primarily an emergency alert system. But the system has a variety of other capabilities as well, and Reynolds believes it can become a useful communication tool.
The system allows people to choose the types of information they receive—general notifications, emergency alerts, and weather alerts. The “general” category is the one Reynolds wants to make better use of. Road closures, water main breaks, power outages, school closings, and Santa House hours are all examples of “situations where residents have said, ‘I wanna know what’s going on,'” explained Reynolds. “Not emergencies, and not social stuff, but things that impact a significant percentage of the village.”
Residents who have waited in traffic along Torrence or 186th, unaware that a train is stopped on the tracks, might appreciate a text alert letting them know that three of Lansing’s intersections are blocked by that train. Reminders about Cruise Nights and Autumn Fest could help people plan their weekend traffic patterns. And in cases of special events like the August 16 Community Forum, Code Red could inform people who aren’t reached by other forms of communication.
The Village will listen to feedback from residents about the types of information they want less of or more of. “We are going to be very sensitive to what people might consider ‘necessary information,'” affirmed Reynolds. He does not want Code Red messages to be considered spam, and he estimates that “general” messages might go out about three or four times a month. People who do not consider the information useful can opt out at any time.
The Village is planning an information campaign about the Code Red system, and the campaign will include step-by-step instructions about signing up. Residents who don’t want to wait for the campaign, or who don’t need the instructions, can sign up right away at villageoflansing.org. “Code Red Signup” is under the Residents tab, and selecting it will open a new page where users can create a “managed account” with Code Red. The enrollment process allows participants to choose whether they want to receive General, Emergency, or Weather alerts, and whether they want to receive them via text, email, or phone call.
Reynolds and other Village staff are available to answer questions about Code Red, but for more hands-on assistance with creating an account, residents are encouraged to visit Lansing Public Library, where someone can provide help on a library computer.
The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue in Lansing.