This letter originally appeared on the September 17, 2008 edition of the Twin-Boro News, Sounding Off section.
Please let me take this opportunity to address the issues and questions raised by Joseph Hakim and Kai Chen in their letters published on Sept. 10 ("Light is shed on Web ‘confusion’ " and "Privacy vs. safety on Dumont’s C3" respectively).
Both individuals fail to understand that the fundamental attribute of the Citizen Communication Center (C3) is that it is primarily an innovative emergency notification system that happens to have a Web site component. While Dumont will continue to participate in the county-run "Reverse 9-1-1 System," C3 will better protect and serve the residents of Dumont in a number of ways:
By offering the ability to send e-mails and text messages in addition to phone calls, C3 dramatically increases the likelihood that all residents will receive important alerts.
In addition, C3 will actually notify residents more quickly then the "Reverse 9-1-1 System" because few people are around to answer their home phone during the day.
Learning about road closures and school closings is important to residents, but only serious emergencies are ever broadcast by the "Reverse 9-1-1 System." Conversely, C3 allows for non-urgent messages to be sent and for residents to customize the types of notifications they would like to receive.
By allowing borough officials to send alerts directly without having to go through the county, C3 saves precious time and money in the event of an emergency and prevents the possibility of miscommunication that arises when information has to pass through multiple channels, such as the case with the recent water main break.
Using state-of-the-art mapping technology, C3 gives officials the ability to send custom alerts regarding localized emergencies.
For instances, while reverse 9-1-1 would never be used for something such as localized flooding — because every resident in town would have to be called — C3 allows messages to the be sent solely to the residents of an affected area.
When registering for C3 at www.DumontNJ.gov, residents are given the opportunity to provide the borough with information about the special needs they or a family member might have.
In the event of an emergency, Dumont’s first responders will be able to use this information to make critical
decisions and perform their duties more effectively.
Given the clear differences between C3 and the "Reverse 9-1-1 System" and the antiquated Web site of www.dumontboro.org, most residents understandably welcome the more technologically advance notification system and web site service.
Criticism about the cost of Dumont’s new Web site is misguided – and I suspect politically motivated with Election Day approaching – because that cost includes everything discussed above, as well as countless other features of C3 beyond the borough’s new official Web site.
Old Tappan may have passed on C3, if Ms. Chen’s assertions are true, but other communities like Teaneck and Nutley have recognized its unparalleled benefits and decided to make this important investment in the safety of their residents.
While citizens are always encouraged to voice their opinions, I hope that in the future those who choose to do so in a public forum will research their claims more thoroughly rather than simply resorting to uninformed accusations.
For the public’s benefit, I strongly encourage Ms. Chen and Mr. Hakim to contact the Borough of Dumont at 201-387-5022 before they continue to unintentionally mislead their fellow residents.
Matt McHale is the Mayor of Dumont.