Council to launch new text alert service

Westmeath County Council is to launch a text alert service in an effort to communicate its work and its news more efficiently, it was revealed this week, September 23.

It is expected to get this service off the ground within a fortnight, acting county manager Barry Kehoe told the second September meeting of the county council.

“The high rates of mobile phone ownership and useage in Ireland provide an opportunity to improve Westmeath County Council’s service to our citizens. Text messaging in particular has become extremely popular, with an increasing number of businesses and public bodies adopting it as a way to communicate more effectively,” he said.

It is proposed to provide this service on a trial basis where a customer will text one of two key words - MULLINGAR or ATHLONE - to 50124 to initiate the free service.

Once subscribed, users will receive free text messages for the particular area to which they subscribe.

For the initial trial basis, it is intended that keyword MULLINGAR will refer to the northern half of the county, while ATHLONE will refer to the southern half.

People may subscribe to both areas if they wish, and also, may unsubcribe at any time.

“This can provide a cost-effective and speedy method to reach customers, ensuring that they receive important information. As over 98 per cent of texts are read within five seconds, messages can reach our customers almost instantly,” said Mr Kehoe.

“We will review it [the service] in 2014 to see what the interest has been like. We’ll advertise it in the local media, and come back [to the council members] with an implementation report in the new year,” he continued.

He also added that the council was looking at reviewing its policy concerning the full spectrum of social media, and how they could be exploited by the local authority.

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