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Boulder Launches New Emergency Alert System That Includes Cellphones Without Users Having to Opt-In

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)- The City of Boulder announced on Monday that it has launched a new emergency alert system. The new system will allow police and fire departments to send alerts and warnings to the public via cellphones.

The alerts will appear with sounds and text, similar to AMBER Alerts and National Weather Service emergency notices, on cellphones. Those alerts will be sent in a specific geographic area without requiring users to opt-in or subscribe to the service.

Boulder Police Generic Badge
(credit: CBS)

The alerts are designed to enhance the city's ability to alert the public to situations and hazards and when possible, include direction from emergency responders on what steps to take.

Until now, the City of Boulder's alert and warning system was limited to landlines and any cellphones that had been registered in advance. That system is Everbridge and the city still asks everyone to sign up for the system since it allows for the most targeted and accurate emergency messaging.

Female hands holding a cellphone outdoors in the snow
Female hands holding a cellphone outdoors in the snow (credit: iStock/Getty Images)

According to the City of Boulder: It is important to know that the length and level of detail in a WEA message will depend on what type of cell phone a user has. Some older phone models will receive shorter, potentially truncated messages of 90 characters; others can receive up to 360 characters. Emergency alerts will be written with this limitation in mind, putting the most urgent information at the beginning. Many phones will also have the capability to receive messages in both English and Spanish. ODM and city dispatch are working to develop a bi-lingual protocol soon.


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