Tampa Unveils Updated Alert Systems for RNC Week
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn unveiled two new applications the city will use to keep businesses and residents up-to-date about trouble spots around downtown during the Republican National Convention in August, according to an article from Tampa Bay Online.
Buckhorn and Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said that the city will use two electronic messaging systems to warn people about emergency situations including road closings and public safety issues, the article says.
The systems will target smartphone users and others without traditional land-line telephones, but unlike many cities' mass notification systems, these were designed to be two-way communication devices, the article says.
"The days of government just sending you stuff is over," said Buckhorn. "We've got to have a conversation with the people we represent."
City officials are bracing themselves for the flood of delegates, journalists and protesters expected to arrive in Tampa for the convention, August 27-30.
In an effort to prevent vandalism and criminal activity over the period, Tampa is hiring thousands of extra police officers from about 60 communities around the state to manage the crowds outside the Secret Service's security fence, the article says.
The first message system will serve business owners, focusing on incidents in the downtown core. This system has been used for years, the article says, to communicate during major events like the Super Bowl and Gasparilla Festival. At Buckhorn's request, engineers began retooling it to serve as a two-way communication stream during the RNC and beyond.
According to Christine Burdick, president of the Tampa Downtown Partnership, the plan goes beyond what city officials witnessed in Chicago during the NATO summit in May.
The city also hopes to enlist thousands of residents and commuters in its Alert Tampa program, which is geared toward non-business needs.
Castor and Buckhorn said that this weekend's flooding from Tropical Storm Debby would trigger the use of the alert system, the article says.