Former Andover Selectman Dan Kowolski, April 24, 2023. Screenshot/Andover TV

People are more likely to unsubscribe from a town’s CodeRed or Reverse 911 text message alert system when it’s used for reminders of “non-emergency events” like town meeting or elections, Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan told the select board Monday.

“What they’ve found in other towns, and this has been the case in other towns I have worked in, while Town Meeting would…functionally be the most important thing, the receivers of information don’t always think it’s the most important thing and will unsubscribe when they’re getting non-emergency communications,” Flanagan said. “Then when we do have to communicate in an emergency, we’re not getting to them.”

Andover uses CodeRed, a third-party platform used for emergency messaging by thousands of municipalities in the U.S. Flanagan told the board he would check with the vendor to see if residents could subscribe to receive non-emergency messages from the town. “That hasn’t been the case in the past, but I’m happy to explore it,” he said.

The discussion came after former Selectman Dan Kowalski said he was disappointed in the Town’s efforts to promote Monday’s Annual Town Meeting during the select board’s public input session. Kowalski said he had asked about using text messages in a letter to Andover officials earlier this month, but did not receive a response.

“Here I am, a former select board member, and I didn’t get one response. I’m really disappointed in that,” Kowalski said. “We have all these mechanisms to communicate…we should use text messaging, we should use the telephone, to tell people about the most important event that occurs in this town — town meeting.”

Photo: Former Andover Selectman Dan Kowalski (screenshot/Andover TV).

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One thought on “Safety Concerns Prevent Text Reminders About Town Meeting”
  1. Simply saying “can’t text” misses the point. Town communications remain confused and ineffective and must be improved. So what CAN be done?

    Earlier, I proposed putting a colored piece of paper in every water and property tax bill mailed highlighting the most important dates and events. This would surely not be perfect either, but these mailings are already being done regularly and the incremental cost would be almost nothing–no more than the cost of the colored paper itself.

    Perhaps if, instead of jumping to the conclusion that a communications director needed to be hired, a real working group of residents with communications, marketing, and sales backgrounds had been assembled to look at Town communication needs and possibilities, we could have found some winning improvements. Maybe it’s not too late …

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