Huntington officials say a new smartphone application intended to keep residents in Cabell and Wayne counties aware of local emergencies reached roughly 16,000 downloads during the first month that it was available to the public.
'Heads Up Huntington' is a free app that provides users with critical information in the event of an emergency or disaster, as well as other incidents such as school closings, major traffic accidents and boil water advisories.
The app launched Nov. 5 and is available to the public through Google Play or Apple's app store. It was a collaborative effort involving the City of Huntington, Huntington Police Department, Mountain State Computer & Networking Solutions and the Cabell-Wayne Homeland Security Committee.
Emergency response officials send alerts to the app using a scale of one through five, with one being a low-level incident that may cause general disruptions in traffic flow, services or utilities and a five being a major disaster that has regional ramifications. Users can customize the app by selecting which notifications are important to them and the alert levels that are sent to their phone as push notifications.
"We have set a goal within our operations in the City of Huntington to set a standard of accomplishment that others throughout the nation will choose to follow," Mayor Steve Williams said. "Heads Up Huntington is a formidable example of how our community can lead the nation in innovative solutions."
Some 90 trusted delegates of the Cabell-Wayne Homeland Security Committee representing law enforcement, emergency responders, local and state government, school districts, utility companies and the health care industry have been trained thus far to enter alerts through the app.
It is the first official installment of the Huntington Police Department's "Community Force" initiative, which encompasses concepts that may not contain an element of law enforcement but still serve as powerful tools to improve the community.
"As we reflect on our mission statement, it is the last line – ‘meet the expectations of our community' – that has inspired our obligation to provide innovative and forward-thinking concepts which exceed the conventional philosophies of police departments," Police Chief Skip Holbrook said.