Oklahoma offers threat level alerts

Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security

Oklahomans can now get instant electronic notices of any changes to the state's and nation's terrorist alert level.

Oklahoma's Office of Homeland Security Web site began offering a new service last month that enables residents to subscribe by simply providing an e-mail address.

"What it allows us to do is either post an e-mail or attach a message on a pager or a [personal digital assistant] or cell phone. Whatever will receive a text message will get this page, which really opens it up to the masses," said Jeff McCartney, general manager of YourOklahoma.com, the state government's portal.

He said that the service would alert subscribers to whether the nation's or the state's alert status changes. "It doesn't give you the full message; it just says, 'The threat level for either the state or the national level has changed, please go to this Web site,' " he said.

The service — which has attracted attention from other states looking to replicate it —- has been well received and subscriptions are steady despite minimal press coverage of the application, McCartney said.

"We can tell that we've had registrations or subscribers from California, New York, up to the New England area. Several government entities have registered and such," he said.

The application was a collaborative effort among McCartney's portal staff and the state's homeland security office as a way to keep citizens "on the front edge of knowledge," he said, adding residents are much more sensitized to terrorist threats since the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.

The state homeland security office also is signing up vendors that can provide valuable equipment and/or services during an emergency, McCartney said, adding that it will be easier for state officials to look up needed equipment and services and contact vendors through a compiled database.

"What you're going to see is possibly expanding and offering things to help share knowledge either within the state to first responders or beyond, if you will," he said. "I think there's so much more that can be done, but the hard part is really allowing people to open up and think beyond current limitations and really expand."

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