San Mateo County residents will soon be automatically signed up to receive emergency alerts

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
San Mateo County residents will soon be automatically signed up to receive emergency alerts
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Only about 9 percent of residents are enrolled for the alerts, meaning more than 690,000 people aren't. Soon, that will change.

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- San Mateo County is opting all residents in for emergency alerts.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the first of its kind resolution during their Tuesday morning meeting.

RELATED: How to sign up for emergency alerts where you live

San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa is behind the resolution allowing the Office of Emergency Services to expand its existing alert notification system, SMC Alert. It was started in 2008.

"When tragedy occurs or calamity occurs we're not prepared for it, but if we use the right tools, cellphones, whether it's email notifications, that gives people a better jump on how to deal with things," said Canepa.

Only about 9 percent of county residents are enrolled in SMC Alert. That means more than 690,000 residents are not signed up.

Canepa says the recent wildfires and disasters like the San Bruno pipeline explosion show the importance of getting emergency information to residents quickly.

This resolution is possible because of a new state law. Local jurisdictions now have the ability to use records from public utilities and other agencies to get your contact information and enroll you in the new program without asking your permission.

RELATED: Sonoma County tests emergency notifications systems in real world

Canepa says this changes everything. "So rather than having 10 percent we hope what we will be able to do is to reach everyone. And if people don't want that information then they can opt out."

Officials believe this could take a few months to implement as the county works with the state.