Reverse 9-1-1 notification adds cell, VoIP alternatives

When emergencies happen in your Kyrene Corridor neighborhood, public safety agencies can use their 9-1-1 phone number database to let you know about it and advise you what to do.

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But what happens if you don’t have a home telephone and rely only on alternative services?

Now, thanks to a regional investment in a new software system, residents Valleywide can register their cell phone or voice-over Internet protocol systems to receive such emergency notifications.

The Community Emergency Notification System, or CENS, also known as Reverse 9-1-1, is a rapid emergency-notification system that was launched in the Maricopa Region in January 2004.

The system contacts the public by telephone during times of emergency to advise, with messages in English, Spanish and TTY, the nature of the emergency and what steps residents need to take to address the emergency.

CENS has been used for both law enforcement and fire-related emergencies. Any emergency agency in the Maricopa Region has access to CENS, but it can be activated only for defined emergency incidents. 

Potential uses could include emergencies such as major fires, public safety threats, flash floods, hazardous materials spills, police incidents and endangered children or elderly persons.

Historically, the system has been limited to the ability to notify only wireline (hardwired) phones listed in the 9-1-1 database.

Now, a self-registration webpage is available for residents to register their cellular or VoIP numbers for CENS with an address they provide.

“Typically, this address would be your home address,” says city of Phoenix 9-1-1 Administrator Liz Graeber.

“The address you provide would be linked to your cell phone number, and any Reverse 9-1-1 call made to your neighborhood would automatically be routed to your cell phone, regardless of where you are at the time,” she said.

“This means that people without traditional ‘land lines’ can now receive the same emergency notifications as their neighbors. This is a key addition to the notification tools used by law enforcement agencies and fire departments in the Valley.”

Graeber said the Maricopa Association of Government’s 9-1-1 Oversight Committee decided to invest in the self-registration software because many people are getting rid of their home telephone service and using only mobile phones or VoIP systems, such as Vonage, Ooma or Magic Jack.

Residents may register up to three devices per email address. For those with more than three devices, they will need to be registered with alternate email accounts.

Notifications near one’s work or business can also be registered, as long as a separate email account is used.

Registering a cell phone or VoIP phone with a street address will allow the registered device to be included in CENS message sent in the prescribed area.

Residents wishing to self-register cell or VoIP phones in the CENS program must do so through the self registration link on the website at: .

Registrations completed by 5 p.m. will be added to the CENS system overnight.

For questions about the system, refer to the FAQ page on the website or contact Liz Graeber at 602-534-9775.



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