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Friday, July 11, 2008

Alexandria eNews – A Great Service!

The City of Alexandria is great at keeping the internet at your fingertips and always providing information to the citizens. I have always been very impressed with the city and how the leaders have been so technology oriented. I sit on the Alexandria IT Commission and get a bird’s eye view of the upcoming plans for the city.

Between the free Wi-Fi internet in Old Town, to streaming the City Council meetings online, to having government services available on the city website, Alexandria is a great technology town.
One of the services that I think is really under publicized is the eNews service that has been built by the city staff and is a real goldmine of current information and news.

The eNews service allows for you to select from over 80 topics on information you want to track or be alerted to on your phone, email, blackberry, iPhone, etc… The messages are real-time so you are alerted for everything from power outages, crime updates, Amber Alerts, airport information, and so on and so on.

It is easy to sign-up, you just visit the Alexandria eNews site and register your mobile and email devices. You can scroll though the 85+ alerts to find what really interests you or concerns your life living in the city.

The top 10 alerts you probably want to subscribe to are ranked below:

10. Alexandria City Council Agenda – I like to keep track of what City Council is working on these days.

9. Amber Alerts – Whenever I see these I am always looking for that white Toyota Celica with rust on the tailpipe.

8. Consumer Product Safety Recalls and Notices – Always good to keep track of this as it is usually updated before CNN.

7. Severe Traffic Alerts from DC, Maryland, and NOVA – It is a busy list, but keeps me away from trouble.

6. Utility Outages – I like to know others are without power also.

5. Notices of City Government Meetings – These are the meetings around town.

4. Airport Delays for BWI, Dulles, and Reagan National – I travel a lot, so this is helpful, though I have found looking out the window helps also.

3. Daily Crime Report – A release on all the crime in Alexandria. Really good to keep track of what is going on in your neighborhood.

2. General City News Releases – A lot of great information on what is going on around the city, including events and special meetings.

1. ACPS Emergency Announcements – Find out if your kids are out of school during the snow or if you have to drive in the ice.

And for the paranoid in you, number #1a is - Emergency Management Tips & News/Emergency Alerts from Alexandria, the District of Columbia and Arlington, Fairfax County, Loudoun, Montgomery, and Stafford Counties.

The alerts are great (sign-up here), and if you manage them correctly they only come to you when you need them or in areas you are interested in. Beyond the top 10 (+1), here are a few others that I have found helpful that might be worth testing out. You can always unsubscribe if you find they are not as useful as you thought:

Boards and Commissions Vacancies
Election Information and Sample Ballots
Smoke Detector Battery Reminders
Personal Property Tax
Environmental Quality News
New Web Site Features
Food Safety Alerts
National Cyber Security Alerts
Pandemic Flu Information Alerts
East Cost Earthquake Alerts
Federal Government Closings
Metrorail Service Disruptions

Oh yes, and the best thing is this service is free! There is no cost to sign up for eNews, although your wireless provider may charge you to receive e-mail or text messages on your mobile device. If you already use e-mail or text messaging, eNews messages will work the same way. Contact your wireless provider if you have any questions about the fees they may charge.

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