Haywood County Implements New, Streamlined Alert Messages

A person on a couch looking at their mobile phone.

In the next few weeks, Haywood County Alerts will switch over to a new, streamlined message format for emergency text alerts.

For users who opt to receive text message alerts, the new text message format will shorten messages greater than 160 characters into a single message, which will include a link to read the full message.

Previous to this change, the messaging system converted longer messages, greater than 160 characters, into multi-part text messages in order to deliver the full message.

The old format had several disadvantages. Most commonly, depending on the mobile device and carrier, it was possible for some longer multi-part messages to be sent out of order which could be confusing.

Emergency Services has not detected any instances in which this actually occurred, and in fact, it has been the policy of local alerting authorities to keep critical messages to a length shorter than 160 characters to prevent such situations from occurring.

This new change is being put in place as an additional procedural safeguard to ensure that timely emergency messages are delivered in the most efficient manner possible when every second counts.

Depending on the mobile device, the SMS (text) options configured on the device, and the operating system of the device, the link in the SMS (text) message may vary in how it is displayed. Some devices may display the link as part of the same message, some devices may display the link in what appears as a separate message, some devices may display a web preview of the link, and so forth.

For example, on iOS/iPhones, the link preview option is only available if the sender is saved in the recipient’s contact list. Otherwise, the link will display in the message without a preview option.

For messages from the messaging service provider Everbridge, this means that recipients who have the Everbridge sender ID programmed as a contact in their phone’s contact list will see a link preview, but those who do not will not see the link preview.

Rest assured that these are all display variations based on the device and do not affect how or when the message is delivered to the device.

Citizens who receive alerts will still get them in the same manner that they always have, the only change users will notice is those who previously received messages in multiple segments, will now receive a single message, which may contain a link to the full message (only if the original message exceeds 160 characters in length.)

To receive emergency text message alerts, simply text your Haywood County zip code to the number 888-777. To receive more detailed alerts and to select different ways of being notified, visit member.everbridge.net/index/453003085616422#/login.

Prepared by Haywood County.