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What is Nixle?

By Staff | Jul 16, 2009

How Nixle works

Nixle.com is where you need to go on the Internet after reading this article. Once the free registration is completed for the free communication service, you will always receive trusted, time-sensitive and geographically-targeted information from the Estherville Police Department.

The information may be for your own safety as well as everyone else in the community.

The folks at Nixle contacted the police department in the normal way to describe the services. The letter containing the information was mailed. “We were skeptical at first,” said EPD Chief Eric Milburn, noting the letter sat on a desk for about a month. “We discussed it and researched the website. We were skeptical about the “free” part and so we looked to see how it could it be free. We thought perhaps it was free to the police department, but not to the users. We, however, were reassured there were no costs involved to anyone except for receipt of text messages.”

It was on June 25, 2009, the EPD became a confirmed law enforcement agency and eligible user of Nixle. “Before this could happen, Nixle had to verify our law enforcement entity, or any other law enforcement entity that is registering,” he said.

Four days later, the department was able to log on and become acquainted with site usage.

Milburn and police captain Brent Shatto are reassuring citizens that Nixle uses a secure platform to ensure users obtain trusted and authentic information. The EPD can send out alerts and advisories immediately. Depending on how citizens wish to be contacted, the information will be sent to their email addresses and/or as cell phone text messages. The information will also be posted on the Nixle website.

Nixle is available for use by five entities, including:

n Law Enforcement.

n Fire and First Responders.

n Municipal government.

n Schools.

n Public utilities.

Nixle is providing a single, standardized source for use by all of these agencies in the U.S. It is free to agencies and users; no advertising is involved. The company promises fast and very reliable text message service.

Milburn said there is no cost involved (aside from texting costs) because funding is provided by outside sources. “Residents can register on the Nixle website to instantly receive information by text or email, or by going to the Nixle page.”

He added, “Nixle’s effectiveness depends on the number of residents who sign up for it. What good is a public information program if nobody signs up to receive the information?”

Another interesting fact is the police department has no way of knowing who registers to receive Nixle. “The purpose of Nixle is for residents to receive the most-up-to-date information and have the ability to stay informed.”

On the flip side, residents who are alerted of a situation can provide assistance to the police department to resolve a problem or situation. Milburn gave a hypothetical scenario in which a child was bitten by a cat on Third Avenue South.

“Let’s say the cat ran away and the only description given was the animal looked like Morris the Cat. We put the location of where the incident occurred and instanteously, registrants will receive the information and how there may be a rabies alert involved. Because many more residents drive by Third Avenue South in a day than we do, chances are someone will see that cat and give us a call.”

Information on weather, gas leaks and water shutoff notifications were other examples of how Nixle can be used. “It is strictly for public information and the public’s safety.” Police can also target specific geographical locations in emergency situations and registered residents in the target area will receive information from Nixle.

When registering, individuals can select the type of information they wish to receive.

The chief said, “Everyone will receive alerts. Individuals can decide whether to receive advisories, community information and traffic updates. We also have the capability of adding photos. This is a free, trusted and simple way for the Estherville Police Department to communicate with its residents.”