The Rundown on Nixle Alerts

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NixleNixle is an emergency notification system that can keep your community up-to-date with important information from your local public safety departments and schools. Its service offers information that’s immediately delivered to your residents by text message, phone call, email, web and social media.

By far, it is most commonly used by police and fire departments to share information about day-to-day public safety and emergency issues. Examples of Nixle posts include: Severe Weather, Natural Disasters, Active Shooters, Terrorist Acts, Finding Missing Persons, Severe Traffic or Road Closures, Public Safety Information for Events and Criminal Activity.

Cities can also use it to share non-public safety news with the community:

PRO TIP: Consider using Santa Ana’s website as an example of how to promote Nixle. The City has links to its sign-up form both on its website header and social media page. You can also look to Berkeley’s page as a template for an informational page about Nixle. It explains why the City uses Nixle and how it fits into the City’s use of other alert systems as well as encourages residents to sign up.

Nixle also offers a helpful ‘Message Publishing Best Practices’ guide that offers good examples of what to send for each of its three messaging categories: Alert, Advisory and Community.

Nixle’s Agency FAQs page offers this:

“The Alert message type is intended for “urgent must know” notifications. It is similar to what many would refer to as an emergency alert. Only law enforcement, elected or appointed officials can authorize the public release of an urgent message. The Advisory message type is intended both for time-sensitive and non-time-sensitive important neighborhood to community level information. The Advisory type message may also include advisories for public safety, health, weather, traffic, and similar kinds of information. The Community message type is intended for all municipal and community non-time-sensitive messages, news and information.”

PRO TIP: Establish a written workflow for repeating/sharing regional safety departments’ own Nixle alerts that are relevant to your community.

Also keep in mind that Nixle doesn’t factor in a Nextdoor Agency Page, which may be a better place to publish non-emergency information. You don’t want to overuse your agency’s Nixle and desensitize your community to important messages. Additionally, take your Nixle audience size into account. You may have a better reach on other platforms, such as Nextdoor.

PRO TIP: Know your audience size. Important emergency messages deserve to reach every member of the community. Achieving that goal is likely impossible, but it is incumbent on public agencies to push resident sign-ups for their emergency notification platforms. That starts with a fundamental question every city manager or PIO should know: What percentage of your constituents are signed up for your emergency notification systems?

When used properly, Nixle can act as an emergency alert system that grabs resident attention to notify them of important information. Depending on the notification systems you have in place, it can be a great addition to your agency’s artillery of social media platforms.