Northborough got a message Monday night: sign up for the town's new emergency notification system as soon as possible.
CodeRED replaces Reverse 911, which hasn't worked in Central Mass. in years, Town Administrator John Coderre told selectmen.
But CodeRED's effectiveness hinges on its database of contact information, which residents can enter online through a link on Northborough's home page, he said.
The system can handle multiple phone numbers, e-mail addresses and the like for each user, he said.
"Nobody should assume that all your information is in the system. You should log on, and put every phone number in that you'd like to receive a notification," Coderre said.
Northborough will use CodeRED for emergencies only, he said.
"When somebody gets a CodeRed notice, they know that it's an emergency, and something that they need to take action on," Coderre said.
Selectmen Chairman Leslie Rutan and Selectman Aaron Hutchins suggested allowing certain kinds of town-wide non-emergency information, such as election alerts, on the system.
Coderre said town officials can revisit the idea. But "this was something that was discussed at great length with the police and fire chief and the emergency personnel. We really tried to mirror our existing Reverse 911 policy," he said.
"This is going to be the way to get information about emergencies in the town of Northborough," he said.
Northborough has a three-year contract with the Emergency Communications Network, for $7,500 annually, for the service, Coderre said.
Peter Applegarth of the Emergency Communications Network demonstrated the system for selectmen Monday night.
"It's a quick way for the police chief, the fire chief, emergency management, public works, health department, the town administrator, to quickly get in touch with the residents for an emergency situation," Applegarth said.
Emergency Communications Network has operated CodeRED for about 15 years, he said. The company serves 32 Worcester County communities, including Westborough, Southborough, Grafton and Shrewsbury, and about 170 in Massachusetts.
CodeREd was used during the Boston Marathon bombings, Applegarth said. "Cambridge and MIT are our clients."
And a missing autistic boy in Sterling was found because "a resident actually received that phone call, saw him, called into the police, and they rescued him, possibly saved his life," Applegarth said.
Town officials can call landlines and cell phones, send texts and e-mails, and launch messages to social media through the system, he said.
"We have the capability to call the entire town in about 10 minutes," Applegarth said.