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Post-Sandy, New Castle Makes Communications Progress

After dealing with communications problems during Hurricane Sandy, New Castle is implementing a series of programs to help in the future. Examples include the CodeRED system and mapping software.

While communication within New Castle was severely impaired by Hurricane Sandy, town officials are working to make sure that the next disaster is not as problematic.

One example is the CodeRED system, which will deliver robo calls to residents containing emergency information. A test was done on Thursday and it went well, Town Administrator Penny Paderewski said. The town's decision to adopt the use of robo calls came after the Chappaqua school district employed them during Sandy and received acclaim.

CodeRED already has a lengthy list of local numbers. Lyle Anderson, a local volunteer who has helped the town with its communications work, was recorded in a video of Tuesday's town board meeting as saying 1,692 people were signed up as of that morning, with about 8,000 total numbers in the system; many numbers were obtained through database usage, he said.

Anderson was on hand to present the town's latest tool: a map that will show residents problems, such as fires, downed fires and trees, along with resources such as shelter and Internet access.

The mapping program, Anderson explained in the video, allows for 2-way interaction, as people from town hall can update it, or first responders from the field. Pictures of the incidents can even be uploaded to accompany the points noted he explained.

The software will also differentiate between reports that are verified and those that are not, containing a list of uploaded information.

“It's a very simple system," Anderson said in the video.

Anderson, in his recorded presentation, noted the efforts made on the communications front, which were done in a time period of roughly six weeks.

The town board's meeting, according to the video, included several other emergency and response items, such as beginning the process to get FEMA reimbursement for Sandy, receiving 50 shelter preparation kits from the American Red Cross and board approval of an emergency operations and communications plan that will be sent to Westchester County. Prior to the meeting itself, the board held a work session that included a meeting with first responders, including police and firefighters. Paderewski told Patch that it involved thanking them for their work and hearing about what they have to say.

To view the presentation of the mapping software, click here for the video, and click here to view a demonstration version of the program.

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