MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The City of Memphis sent messages to phones across the area Wednesday night in a test of its mass communication system.
Those messages started hitting phones without warning and some questioned their legitimacy. It wasn’t a hoax if you got a text message or voicemail from the City of Memphis Wednesday.
We now know those texts and voicemails were in fact from the city.
If you got one, the city is asking you to reply “yes” as confirmation. If you did not get a message, we’re told there will be a way to opt into the program at some point in the future.
The City of Memphis says they tried to reach more than 300,000 people to determine the effectiveness of the system. The rollout of the texts and phone alerts comes nine weeks after Memphis was placed on lockdown after an accused gunman went around shooting people at random.
By the time it was over, three people were dead and three others wounded. At the height of the attack, the only way officials were able to communicate with the public was through social media. Ultimately, prompting the rollout of a mass communication system which many say is necessary.
The city posted a short message on Twitter saying “in an effort to serve you better and notify you in times of emergency, the city of Memphis conducted a test today.”
The city tells WREG out of 300,000 messages sent out only about 28,000 people responded. They contracted a company called Everbridge, who reportedly used data from Whitepages to contact residents.
Despite the criticism by some, the city of Memphis says they stand by its decision, telling WREG in part, “We are trying something new and usually when you try something new it’s gonna be met with a lot of critique and it’s gonna met with you should have done this differently, and I’m okay with all of the critique if it’s gonna help us.”
Next time the city says they plan on notifying residents ahead of time and stressed it was only a test.