Reverse 911 is a public safety communications system developed by Cassidian Communications, formerly PlantCML, a unit of EADS North America. It is used by public safety organizations in Canada and the United States to communicate with groups of people in a defined geographic area. The system uses a database of telephone numbers and associated addresses, which, when tied into geographic information systems (GIS), can be used to deliver recorded emergency notifications to a selected set of telephone service subscribers.
The system is used to notify residents in emergency situations. During the 2010 Boston water emergency, government agencies used the system to notify a large number of Boston-area residents in particular neighborhoods to boil water before drinking. During the much more contained 2004 bulldozer rampage in Granby, Colorado, authorities used Reverse 911 to notify the approximately 1,500 residents of the town to evacuate from the bulldozer's path. During the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Seaside and Astoria, Oregon, residents were notified by Reverse 911 and sirens to evacuate low-lying areas. When the improvised explosive devices in the Aurora, Colorado apartment of 2012 Aurora shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes were detonated by police, Reverse 911 was used to notify nearby residents of the evacuation order. On December 14, 2012, Reverse 911 was used to notify parents in the Sandy Hook community of Newtown, Connecticut of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting incident. During the manhunt for suspects involved in the Boston Marathon bombings, Reverse 911 was used to notify residents of Watertown, Massachusetts, to remain in their homes.
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