The Council has succeeded in putting a new all-county community text alert scheme in place, and I am now in a position to give you the full details of how the scheme will operate, both from the perspective of the text alert groups, and from the perspective of the general public, as subscribers to the service.
To briefly recap, you will remember that Komeer, the service provider who sent out the scheme’s messages for the last 3 ½ years, exited the marketplace at the end of 2022, and we had to seek an alternative provider. Key in our selection was that the new provider could offer a service as close to the one people were used to receiving as possible. We also managed to retain the ability to sub-divide the county into local areas, so that people could sign up to receive messages from their local area.
The new service will be a bringing together of the Community Alerts service (which sent out messages from the Gardai and from community alert groups) and Monaghan County Council’s text alert service (which sends out messages about road closures, flooding, weather warnings etc).
The new service will be called ‘Monaghan Alerts’, and will be hosted on Monaghan County Council’s website. The direct link to the registration/ login page is:
People register with Monaghan Alerts, then they will be asked to check the box(es) of the alert services they wish to subscribe to. The services they can select from are:
- Council Alerts
- Weather Alerts
- Garda/ Community Alerts
When they register, their phone number becomes their username, and they set a password. They can then come back in to their account at any time to change their settings, and opt in/ out of the services they wish to receive.
Over time, new services may be added, such as community notices. Subscribers will be notified by message that there is a new service available, and they can then go in and add it to their ‘opt in’ list if they wish to start receiving those alerts also.
Subscribers can still opt to receive their messages by text, email or app. The app is called ‘Monaghan Alerts’ and will be available for download from apple and google stores from Wednesday 1st March.
As before, the service is completely free to the public.
Gardai will send out messages by logging in to the website using a special garda username and password. There they will have three options:
- Send message to group co-ordinators (we are asking you to confirm a person in your group to be that liaison with the Gardai. They will receive messages from time to time from the Gardai about national campaigns, events etc, which your group may then wish to promote locally).
- Send message to a business group (for example the traders in a particular town. This could be useful if there was a gang in town targeting retailers)
- Send crime alert message. Within this option, they then must tick the areas that they wish the message to go out to. If they wish the message to go out to the whole county, they will need to tick all 25 boxes. (we hope this will cut down on the amount of local messages being sent countywide, which really annoyed a lot of subscribers)
From you, the Community Alert Group’s perspective, the service remains the same. Monaghan County Council will continue to underwrite the cost of the service. We will also undertake all the statutory obligations around data protection.
When we reviewed the former scheme last summer, we noticed very few of you were using the function which allowed you to send messages out to your local subscribers. To make the process easier for you with the new scheme, we have completely removed the need to familiarise yourself with the new system. All you need to do if you want to send out a message is send an email to us with your message, giving the name of the area(s) you want to send the message out to. See separate page with instructions on this.
There are four things that I wish to highlight about the new system:
- To help the Gardai target their alerts, the county has been split into areas. The areas have been developed taking in a number of factors, including the communities that people identify with, the road networks that criminals may use and that the Gardai may need to get an alert out along, and the electoral division boundaries. In some areas, this may mean that two or more community alert groups are included in one community area. It’s not an exact science, and we may need to review the areas at some stage, but for the moment let’s see how they work, take notes and be ready to discuss the pro’s and con’s at the review.
- Subscribers can only select ONE area when they join up. On the old system, they could join as many groups/areas as they liked. There didn’t seem to be any real benefit to this, and it added greatly to the cost of running the service, so that’s been removed. Again, we can discuss it at review if it is missed by many.
- Because people can only subscribe to one area, sub-areas with a town have been removed. This affects three residential areas of Monaghan town. We are working on a solution to this which we will develop with the groups concerned.
- Messages can ONLY be 160 characters in length, as this is the length of a standard text message. We cannot send photos etc on the new system. Instead, a link to further information can be sent. Try to keep the link short though!!
Due to data protection legislation, we have been unable to migrate the database of subscribers over from Komeer to the new service, so we will be undertaking a promotional campaign to inform former Komeer subscribers that they need to re-register.
If you wish to help promote the new scheme in your area, we will provide you with posters and subscription forms. We are also happy to attend meetings and help people to download the app. If you are given any completed forms, please forward them on to me and I will ensure that they are uploaded on to the database and that the paper form is disposed of in accordance with our data protection procedures.
The new expanded Monaghan Alerts service will go live on Monday 27th February, and will be launched at the Joint Policing Committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon. We would love if you could join us for the launch, which will include a full demonstration of the new scheme. Please find details below.
If you have any questions about the new service, please feel free to contact me on 086 838 6905 or email@example.com . you can also reach me on the new email address, firstname.lastname@example.org