HomeCity NewsIf Disaster Hits, LCF Can Reach Residents Quickly

If Disaster Hits, LCF Can Reach Residents Quickly

The recent deluge of rain and snow that complicated life in California and endangered some residents underscored the need for efficient communication between local governments and the people they serve.
In La Cañada Flintridge, officials already have the means to let residents know about natural disasters affecting the city, as well as an updated way to receive information from community members about more mundane matters regarding the quality of life here.
In an interview, city Deputy Director of Administrative Services Arabo Parseghian spoke about these two resources — Alert LCF and the Citizen Problem Reporter app — and their history within the municipality.
Alert LCF started in July 2009 as an emergency response mechanism allowing the city to communicate with residents easily in the event of a disaster — a major earthquake, for example — and is part of the city’s public safety efforts.
“Alert LCF is basically an emergency communication tool that a lot of cities started to incorporate. It’s a way for us during a disaster to reach out to the citizens and give them vital information and updates about the disaster, and it’s very useful when it comes to utilizing it for evacuation purposes as well,” said Parseghian.
Currently there are 23,000 people signed up in the system. When they register, they can choose to be notified by text, phone call, email or all three (though they have to set one as a priority). If an event is serious enough that the city must use Alert LCF, people would be notified immediately, Parseghian said.
“And thankfully, knock on wood, we haven’t had any major disasters” that have required use of the system, said Parseghian.
But the city does quarterly testing to make sure the mechanism still works for its members, and the procedure has been successful each time.
The city implemented use of the Citizen Problem Reporter app three years ago; the device represents a transition to something that is mobile friendly for residents.
With no login requirement, residents are able to anonymously make a report on the app about things happening in the city — for example, the presence of graffiti or of traffic impediments such as a couch in the middle of an intersection.
When notified via the app, the city takes such service requests into a database, then staff members in the appropriate municipal department are informed about requests.
“Then the department or staff member will look at it, take necessary steps depending on what the [request is], and it will update the service request as they go,” said Parseghian. Updates on the progress of the work are also available through the app.
Residents are also able to add photos with their request and if they have enabled GPS, it will show exactly where the incident is. Once the job is done, they will update its status to “complete.”
Depending on the request and time of day, the request is usually seen by the city or specific department within 24 hours.
“So, it just depends on the scope of the issue and whether we have to deal with multiple agencies in responding to it,” said Parseghian.
So far, Parseghian hasn’t heard any complaints about the app and assures that the city is finding new ways to make the process simpler, like minimizing categories in which can submit requests.
“Based on the usage and the fact that people are using it, it does seem to be doing its job, which is again, one more way for residents to communicate with the city on any potential issues and concerns,” said Parseghian
There have been approximately 200 requests since the transition to the app three years ago.
“We actually have a lot of people using our online contact form to report issues as well,” adding to the number of requests in the last three years, said Parseghian. That form is available through the city’s website.
The city does try to educate the public about using the app rather than the contact form. The goal is to have residents come to one place to report something in the city so that it can get done efficiently.
“[The app is] more consolidated. It helps us keep on track of what’s being done and what isn’t,” said Parseghian.
Anyone who is interested in learning more about Alert LCF or the Citizen Reporter app can visit cityoflcf.org/alertswarnings/ and cityoflcf.org/citizen-problem-reporter-app/.

First published in the March 9 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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