AlertSeattle FAQ


General

    • What is AlertSeattle?
      AlertSeattle is the City of Seattle’s official emergency alert and notification system. This system is used to send alerts to the public and internally to city employees during emergencies.AlertSeattle is a free service that allows you to sign-up online to receive customized alerts via text message, email, voice message and on social media (Facebook and Twitter). In addition to emergency alerts, you can also choose to receive customizable community notifications. These include notifications about severe weather, safety, health, utility disruptions, major traffic incidents, and more.This service is provided by the City of Seattle at no cost to the public; however, message and data rates may apply.

 

    • Why should I sign-up for AlertSeattle?
      When emergencies happen, be the first to know. The City of Seattle uses AlertSeattle to send official, real-time alerts to the public with information about potentially life-saving actions they may need to take to keep themselves and their families safe. By signing up for AlertSeattle, you are taking a large step toward improving your personal safety.

 

    • How does it work?
      When an emergency occurs that meets the criteria for sending out an alert to the public, the City’s emergency dispatchers will gather the necessary information and push out an alert to the affected area. Alerts can be sent out city-wide to everyone who has opted-in to the system, or to a specific area or neighborhood for more localized events.

 

    • How much does it cost?
      This service is provided by the City of Seattle at no cost to the public; however, message and data rates may apply depending on your provider and phone services.
      During the sign-up process you have the option to choose how you want to be notified and what types of alerts to receive. For any notification you choose to receive, you can specify whether you want text message, email, voice delivery – or any combination of these.
      To avoid being charged frequent pay-per-text or pay-per-call fees by your phone service provider, you can select only the types of messages you prefer – for example, selecting email only as the delivery type – or opt-in for ‘emergency alerts’ (which are infrequent in typical usage).

 

    • Why do I need AlertSeattle when I have a TV, social media and a radio to keep me informed?
      AlertSeattle serves as another tool to keep the public informed during emergencies. By signing up for AlertSeattle, the public can receive real-time alerts directly on their preferred devices (text message, voice message, email and social media).

 

    • Why did the City of Seattle implement AlertSeattle?
      The City of Seattle is always looking for new ways to improve the safety of our residents. With AlertSeattle in place, City responders have the ability to send a mass notification to all landlines and opt-ins with important information that could save lives.
      AlertSeattle helps fill another safety gap within the City’s dispatch centers. During large-scale emergencies, the 911 center can be quickly overwhelmed with a high volume of 911 calls received from the public. A majority of the 911 calls received during emergencies are not about life-threatening situations, but rather contain requests for information about what is going on during a crisis or emergency. By sending alerts directly to the public on their preferred devices, the City will keep the public informed and at the same time reduce the number of 911 calls from residents not in immediate need of emergency services. Easily available and authoritative public information will improve the 911 center’s ability to keep phone lines open to respond to critical emergencies.

 

    • Can you guarantee that I will receive notification if I register?
      While AlertSeattle is an excellent system, we cannot guarantee that you will receive notification in all cases. Disasters and emergencies are chaotic and unpredictable, and notification is dependent on external providers such as your wireless carrier or e-mail delivery service outside the City’s control. AlertSeattle will use several means of communications to try to ensure that should any one communications method, technology, or delivery option be unavailable to reach residents, other methods will be used to improve the likelihood that citizens will see the message.


Signing up

    • How do I sign-up for AlertSeattle?
      Signing up for AlertSeattle is easy. Go to alert.seattle.gov and register your contact information.
      To update your existing AlertSeattle preferences, click here.

 

    • When I signed up for AlertSeattle it says I already have an account.
      AlertSeattle integrates with Smart911, a 9-1-1 service available throughout King County (Rave Mobile Safety is the vendor for both products). This means that you can manage your information and preferences for both services through one account, accessible at either www.smart911.com or alert.seattle.gov.

 

    • Who can sign-up for AlertSeattle?
      AlertSeattle is available to anyone who lives, works, travels through, or visits the City of Seattle, and also available to all Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities customers. The address can be your home location, work location, or any other location you care about. For those who visit Seattle, but do not live or work in the City, pick the address of the location(s) you visit often.

 

    • Is AlertSeattle the same as Smart911?
      While AlertSeattle integrates with the existing Smart911 service in King County, they are two services that each serve a unique purpose. Smart911 provides a safety profile of your information directly to 9-1-1 when you call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. AlertSeattle will ensure you receive emergency alerts from the city of Seattle. Rave Mobile Safety is the vendor for both AlertSeattle and Smart911.

 

    • I already have a Smart911 account, how do I sign up for AlertSeattle?
      Login to your account at www.smart911.com and click on the preferences panel on the right of your dashboard. Seattle utility customers can receive notifications within the utility service areas, extending beyond the City limit.

 

    • I don’t have a Smart911 account but want to sign up for both services, what do I do?
      You can sign up for both AlertSeattle and Smart911 by visiting either www.smart911.com or alert.seattle.gov and creating an account. Be sure to add as much information as you want dispatchers to have in the event of an emergency to your profile. Click the preferences panel on the right side of the screen to ensure you opt-in to receive alerts from AlertSeattle.

 

    • Will I receive alerts if I don’t sign-up?
      Seattle residents who have a landline phone may receive alerts. However, there are strict rules governing when the City can use this contact information to send out an alert. Only extremely critical alerts containing potentially life-saving information will be sent. Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities customer contact information has been automatically loaded in the AlertSeattle system. Utility customer information may only be used to alert customers in a utility related emergency or service disruption. In order to ensure that you are able to get all emergency alerts we recommend that you sign-up for AlertSeattle online. If you do not sign-up and register your contact information, you will not receive alerts on your preferred devices, and may miss out on receiving important safety information.

 

    • I live outside of the city limits, but I am a customer of Seattle City Light or Seattle Public Utilities – can I sign-up for AlertSeattle?
      Yes. All Seattle utility customers can sign-up their home addresses for AlertSeattle. Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities use AlertSeattle to push out important information to their customers about disruptions or changes to utility services.

 

    • I don’t own a computer – who can help me sign-up for AlertSeattle?
      You can visit your local Seattle Public Library to sign-up online for AlertSeattle. Those who do not have computer access are also welcome to attend one of the many scheduled opt-in events hosted by the Seattle Office of Emergency Management. Visit Emergency Management’s website to see when they are scheduled.

 

    • I don’t speak English – who can help me sign-up for AlertSeattle?
      The Seattle Office of Emergency Management has trained over 20 bilingual individuals who speak English and one or more of Seattle’s top 14 spoken languages to serve as AlertSeattle ambassadors. These ambassadors will be present at the scheduled opt-in events, which will take place at Seattle Public Libraries. Visit Emergency Management’s website to see when they are scheduled.

 


Alerts

    • What types of alerts will I receive?
      Emergency alerts are sent 24/7 when there is an immediate threat to life and/or property. In addition to emergency alerts, you can also choose to receive customizable community notifications. Community notifications are sent between the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. These include notifications about:-
      Severe weather – snow events, freezing rain, high winds, tidal and urban flooding, thunderstorms and more.- Safety – incidents that may pose a risk to the public including criminal activity, serial arson, and multiple alarm fires.- Health – contagious diseases, food and water contamination, and more.
      Transportation disruption – impacts to transportation services including major street and bridge closures or events that affect travel.- Utility service disruptions or changes in service schedule – impacts to drinking water, sewer, storm water, and garbage and recycling pickup.- Special event information – community events that may affect travel, business activity and safety including parades, emergency drills, demonstrations and more.- Emergency preparedness information – find out about emergency preparedness events and trainings in your area.- Test messages – receive periodic test messages to verify operation of the AlertSeattle system.

 

    • What does an alert look like?
      Depending on your device preferences and the severity of the emergency, alerts may be sent via text message, email and phone call, or to all of your devices at once. Text messages are limited to 160 characters in length; email and voice messages may be longer and contain additional information.
      Text message alert example: “AlertSeattle: A 7.5 earthquake occurred at 10:55 a.m. on the Seattle fault line. Drop, cover and hold on during aftershocks. Visit alert.seattle.gov/earthquake for safety information.
      Voice message alert example: “This is an AlertSeattle message from the City of Seattle. A 7.5 earthquake occurred at 10:55 a.m. on the Seattle fault line. Drop, cover and hold on during aftershocks. Only call 911 for life threatening emergencies. Visit alert.seattle.gov/earthquake for safety information. Alerts with updates on the incident will be sent out periodically as information becomes available. Press the star key to repeat this message. ”
      Email alert example: “AlertSeattle: A 7.5 earthquake occurred at 10:55 a.m. on the Seattle fault line. Drop, cover and hold on during aftershocks. Only call 911 for life threatening emergencies. Visit alert.seattle.gov/earthquake for safety information. Alerts with updates on the incident will be sent out periodically as information becomes available.
      Follow AlertSeattle on Twitter (@AlertSeattle) and Facebook (/AlertSeattle) for timely updates.

 

    • How will I identify incoming alerts?
      All text messages sent from AlertSeattle are sent using five or six-digit numbers called “short codes.” When you receive a text via a short code, you’ll receive a message from any of following short code numbers: 226787, 67283, 22911, 78015 and 81437.
      We strongly encourage you to save these numbers in your phone’s address book. Simply create a contact called “AlertSeattle” and add the numbers above in the standard phone number field. This way, when you receive alert message these will be more recognizable as an official communication from the City. If your carrier or phone does not support short code messaging, messages you receive will appear to come from a seattle.gov email address.
      Voice message alerts will be sent from the phone number 206-267-0015 or 206-267-0016 and will display a caller ID of “AlertSeattle” on phones that support standards CallerID service.
      Email alerts will be sent from the email address alertseattle@seattle.gov.

 

    • Can I call the alert phone number back or reply back to the email?
      You are not able to reply to texts or e-mails sent by AlertSeattle. Voice messages provide a dial-back number to replay an alert message and direct you to view alert.seattle.gov for additional information about the event. The information number for active alerts is 206-267-0015 (City of Seattle) or 206-267-0016 (Utilities).

 

    • When will I start receiving alerts?
      Once you have signed up online at alert.seattle.gov and confirmed your contact information within the system, you will begin receiving alerts

 

    • How do I update or remove my notification preferences and contact information used by AlertSeattle?
      Follow the below steps to change your AlertSeattle preferences (for example, to reduce the number of messages of a certain type, or to change the contacts used for each kind of message):

      • 1. Go to the Login page for AlertSeattle (https://www.smart911.com/smart911/ref/login.action?pa=alertseattle)
      • 2. Login using your AlertSeattle username and password (If you’ve forgotten these, follow the instructions on the page under “Forgot Username or Password?”)
      • 3. Once signed in, click the ‘Preferences’ tab at the top
      • 4. Under ‘Notification Preferences’, you can make changes to both the phone numbers and email addresses on which you want to receive AlertSeattle messages by clicking or unclicking the checkboxes
      • 5. You can also choose what alerts you want to receive and the method you wish to receive them by (text, voice, email)
        • For example, if you wish to turn off all messages regarding Transportation Disruptions, simply uncheck the box to the left of “Transportation Disruption”
        • If you wish instead only to receive emails for Transportation Disruption notifications, instead uncheck the “Text” and / or “Voice” choices, so that only “Email” remains checked

 

    • How often will I receive alerts?
      The frequency for which you receive alerts depends on the addresses you provide and the types of alerts you select to receive as well as the frequency of actual emergencies. Emergency alerts will only be sent when there is an immediate threat to life and/or property. Community notifications will be sent when the criteria for sending an alert are met.
      This system is not intended to bombard you with information. The City will only send you alerts about the information you select to receive. To change your alert settings, login to alert.seattle.gov and edit your preferences.

 

    • Who sends out the alerts?
      The majority of alerts are sent out by the City’s Fire and Police Departments. Designated officials from major city departments also have the authority to issue an alert for specific types of incidents.

 

    • Are alerts sent out in languages other than English?
      The content on the AlertSeattle opt-in webpage uses Google Translate and can be translated into over 80 languages. However, at this time, the alerts themselves will only be sent out in English. After practicing with English as Second Language audiences, we found the translation needed more work to be more customer friendly. The City is currently working with the vendor on a solution to have the capability of sending out translated alerts in the near future.

 

    • Will the AlertSeattle system call numbers outside of Seattle’s area codes?
      Yes. You will receive alerts on numbers outside of Seattle’s area codes as long as you have provided a valid address.

 

    • How does the AlertSeattle system respond to busy signals or no-answer situations?
      If a call completes and is sent to your answering machine or voice mail system, a message is left. If a phone call is not answered or busy, the system redials your number several times.

 

    • If I am unable to make or receive calls or text messages during an emergency, will I still receive AlertSeattle alerts?
      AlertSeattle messages are more likely to be delivered to your devices than messages sent from local phone numbers during emergencies when telecommunication is down; however, receipt of AlertSeattle messages is not guaranteed. The vendor for AlertSeattle, Rave Mobile Safety, supports mass notifications via geographically redundant systems, including systems hosted outside of Washington State, to improve reliability and redundancy while lessening reliance on local infrastructure that might be distressed during an event. Receipt of AlertSeattle messages may depend on your phone carrier and their cell phone tower operations, network connectivity, or other factors.
      If you are concerned that you did not receive an AlertSeattle message, go to alert.seattle.gov to view a rolling log of all alerts that have been issued.

 

    • What if I receive a call at home and I am not there to answer it?
      AlertSeattle will leave a voice message on your recording machine with a local call back number. To view the message, go to alert.seattle.gov to see a rolling log of all alerts that have been issued.

 

    • What other safety and alerting systems should I sign-up for?
      Seattle residents should sign-up for both AlertSeattle and King County’s alert and warning system. King County will send out region-wide alerts, while AlertSeattle will send out local information. King County and the City of Seattle will work together when issuing alerts to ensure the information sent out is consistent. Go to King County’s website to register for the Regional Public Information Network (RPIN)

 


Privacy and Contact Information

    • Will my information be disclosed or shared?
      No, your information is private and will not be used or distributed in any manner. The information that you provide is exempt from public disclosure and will be used for emergency purposes only.

 

    • What precautions are taken to protect personal contact information stored in the AlertSeattle system?
      Personal information provided to AlertSeattle is private and only used to notify you for official City of Seattle communications and to support the City’s emergency services.
      Your information is not used for marketing purposes and will not be sold to telemarketers or data-mining organizations. A variety of “opt-in” mechanisms are available to ensure you are getting just the messages you want to receive, delivered via the devices and communications modes that you choose.
      AlertSeattle utilizes the highest standards in physical and computer security technologies and conducts regular audits to ensure all information is kept secure. Privacy policies are also outlined in the Terms and Conditions you review when you sign up to receive AlertSeattle notifications.

 

    • How do I update or remove my contact information in the AlertSeattle database?
      Go to alert.seattle.gov and login to edit your contact preferences.

 

    • Who do I contact if I have more questions?
      Detailed information about AlertSeattle is available at alert.seattle.gov. You may contact the City of Seattle Customer Service Bureau at 206-684-2489 if you have additional questions.