VHAlerts – Instructions and Registration

Sign up now to send and receive urgent safety alerts for Virginia-Highland via text message on your cell phone.

Register now to keep you and your family safe. Help keep the neighborhood safe by alerting everyone else about urgent safety issues you see.

Here’s How to Get Started:

Step 1: Read the rules; understand difference between good & bad alerts (2-3 minutes)

a) Overview
b) Rules
c) Examples of Good and Bad Alerts

Step 2: Register (Easy one-time initial set up, done online, takes 1-2 minutes.)

Step 3: How to send an Urgent Alert (super easy, takes less than 30 seconds to read)

Support:

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1a. Overview

What: free service to receive time-sensitive emergency safety alerts via text message to your mobile phone (and/or via email if you prefer), for Virginia-Highland neighborhood. Think of it like the “Emergency Broadcast System” for the neighborhood.

Different and Better: Unlike the emergency broadcast system on TV which is centrally managed, all authorized residents can send emergency alerts to the entire group, so we get the benefit of a true neighborhood watch. Receive urgent safety alerts quickly no matter where you are, via text message on your mobile phone. Emergency alerts are not cluttered by numerous non-urgent messages found in e-mail.

Why You Should Sign Up Right Now: Register right now to keep you and your family safe. Get notifications right away about urgent safety issues affecting the neighborhood. Help keep the neighborhood safe by alerting everyone else about urgent safety issues you see.

Why We Created VHAlerts: There was a guy with a machete was running around the neighborhood. I was out walking my dog at the same time the guy with the machete was nearby. Other neighbors had seen him… but I didn’t know that. All neighbors (including me) would have benefited from an emergency alert sent via text message to cell phones. A text message alert system didn’t exist for the neighborhood, so we created it.

Free: So we can provide this service to everyone for free, we’re using an online service called Nextdoor Virginia-Highland.

How You Can Help: Tell your neighbors to sign up for VHAlerts. The more people who participate, the stronger the emergency network will be for everyone.

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1b. Rules (Read and always follow the rules)

With great power comes great responsibility: When you send an alert, it goes to the entire group via text message and/or email. Therefore, you must always follow these rules outlined below and explained further in the FAQ.

Why this is important: if you send an alert that violates the rules, you’re going to annoy your neighbors; cause some people who’s cell phone calling plans charge them for receiving text messages to incur unnecessary charges; and cause harm to the reputation of the alert network.

Don’t be a turkey: in every group, it seems there is always some turkey who doesn’t read or follow even the most simple to understand rules. Don’t be that person!

1) VHAlerts is not a replacement for 911. If appropriate for the situation, call 911 FIRST.

2) Speaking of 911, VHAlerts are not monitored by the police. There isn’t a team of people at VHAlerts to rush to the scene of an emergency.

3) Your safety comes first. Only send a message if you think it is safe for you to do so. Don’t text and drive. Etc.

4) For Virginia-Highland residents, and certain individuals who we approve as rare exceptions. Contact us if you you live just a few blocks outside the neighborhood boundaries or if you have a compelling reason to be part of the group.

5) Send only fact-based, urgent, time sensitive safety alerts that the entire neighborhood should know about immediately to ensure their personal safety. If you send anything else, you’re going to annoy your neighbors.

6) Leads periodically send authorized tests of the urgent alert system (typically once a month to ensure the system is up and operational). However, we ask that you please do not send a “test” urgent alert to the entire group. If everyone were to do that, it would annoy everyone. And cause some people who’s cell phone calling plans charge them for receiving text messages to incur unnecessary charges.

7) If someone has already sent an alert about a situation, do not send a second urgent alert about the same situation unless there is new and important information that is time sensitive and urgent for immediate safety of all neighbors participating in VHAlerts.

8) Urgent alerts is NOT a tool for discussion, back-and-forth, or question & answer. Do not send urgent alerts with messages that include conversation, discussion, links to articles in newspapers, opinions, editorial, etc. Please use Nextdoor’s regular (non-urgent) messaging features for those messages.

9) Be aware that no electronic system is perfect. What goes up, sometimes goes down. Just like sometimes the electricity in the neighborhood goes out. Or sometimes Comcast TV goes out. While not the norm, be aware that it is possible that the system could go down for short periods of time; and while it hasn’t happened yet, it is also possible that text messages could be delayed.

While this system, like all systems, will not be perfect, we hope that it will be a useful addition to the neighborhood communication tools.

10) Turkey alert! Do not send a message to the entire group saying “Unsubscribe”, which would be horribly annoying and inconsiderate. (To unsubscribe, just change your mobile and email preferences on Nextdoor Virginia-Highland.)

11) Know that whatever you send as an alert, will be sent to the rest of the group on Nextdoor at Virginia-Highland. As a general practice for posting online anywhere, you might want to avoid sending alerts with sensitive personal information.

We suggest never posting anywhere online (such as Twitter, Facebook, online message boards, email listservs, etc) that you’re away on vacation, that you’re away from home, etc (which is basically, the same as announcing “come rob my house while I am away.”

12) After you send an alert, you can not edit it or “un-send” it. As moderators, we cannot edit it or “un-send” it.

13) Be aware that no human system is perfect. At some point, someone will break the rules and send an off-topic message. Keep the big picture in mind, and have a long term perspective. Do NOT send an urgent alert message to the entire group to complain, which would only compound the problem with yet another off-topic message. More info on this – and helpful related tips – in the FAQ below.

Thank you for reading the rules and following them. You are our HERO!

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1c. Examples of Good and Bad Alerts

What Is a Good Alert?

Attributes of a “good” urgent alert:

  1. On topic: (fact-based, urgent, time sensitive safety alerts that the entire neighborhood should know about immediately to ensure their personal safety)
  2. Who (description of bad person if possible)
  3. What (facts of what is happening)
  4. Where (be as specific as possible about location. Street address. Intersection.)
  5. Timely about something happening now or just happened – and an alert now will help people immediately
  6. State whether you have called 911.

Examples of Good Alerts (Be a Hero!)

“I just saw a guy wielding a machete on Virginia Ave near John Howell Park. WM, height 5-11. I’ve called 911. Caution!”

“Just saw two people stealing license tags off cars on Adair Ave near Barnett. BM’s, late teens. Grey tshirts. I called 911.”

“Missing child, ran off when I wasn’t looking. Boy, age 5, brown hair, green sweatshirt. At John Howell Park. I called 911.”

“Tornado WARNING – funnel cloud/tornado seen at N. Highland and Drewry. Take cover immediately!”

“Big tree knocked down by storm, blocking Barnett at St. Charles. Road impassable. Caution. I called 911.”

“Massive car accident on Barnett blocking all lanes. Avoid driving there. 911 called. (This relates directly to Virginia-Highland and is time sensitive)

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What Is a “Bad” Urgent Alert?

WARNING: Bad urgent alerts will annoy your neighbors.

Remember, when you send a Direct Message on Twitter to VHAlerts, your message is routed to the entire membership base, to many as a text message to their mobile phones. Don’t annoy your neighbors with a bad alert.

Attributes of a bad alert:

  1. Off topic (not about fact-based, urgent, time sensitive safety alerts that the entire neighborhood should know about immediately to ensure their personal safety)
  2. Lacks specificity about the bad person (lacks description of bad person when otherwise available)
  3. Lacks specificity about what (lacks facts of what is happening)
  4. Lacks specificity about where (lacks specific location. Street address. Intersection.)
  5. Not happening right now or didn’t just happen (could go on a message board instead)
  6. Doesn’t indicate if you’ve already called 911 or if no call is necessary depending on the circumstances

Examples of Bad Alerts (Don’t be a Turkey!)

“Just saw a guy stealing tags from cars” (BAD: Not specific enough. What street location and intersection? Did you call 911? Any description of the thief?)

“Someone broke into my house yesterday!” (No longer timely for an urgent alert; post it as a regular non-urgent message instead)

“Can anyone tell me how to get a blue recycle bin?” (NOT FOR VHAlerts! post it as a regular non-urgent message instead)

“What time is the neighborhood safety meeting tonight?” (NOT FOR VHAlerts! post it as a regular non-urgent message instead)

“There’s a tornado watch for Fulton County” (Not for VHAlerts. Only post weather related alerts if there is an eminent danger, such as a Tornado Warning (a tornado was actually seen or picked up by radar).

Understand the different between a “Tornado Watch” (not for VHAlerts) and a “Tornado Warning” (send to VHAlerts) (link opens in new window).

“Here’s an update on that crime from last night, in the AJC” (NOT FOR VHAlerts! post it as a regular non-urgent message instead)

“My car broke down, I’m on Virginia Ave, can someone help?” (NOT FOR VHAlerts! post it as a regular non-urgent message instead)

“The electricity is out here on St. Charles, anyone else?” (NOT FOR VHAlerts!)

“We’re having brownouts again here on Todd Ave.” (NOT FOR VHAlerts! post it as a regular non-urgent message instead)

“The cable TV is out here on Adair, anyone else have their cable out?” (NOT FOR VHAlerts! post it as a regular non-urgent message instead)

“I saw a dog loose on St. Charles Barnett.” (NOT for VHAlerts! We love dogs, and want to see every lost dog helped. Generally dogs on the loose in the neighborhood do not affect the safety of everyone in the neighborhood, unless they appear viscous and you believe the neighborhood needs to be alerted for that reason. Based on feedback from the group, please post a “lost dog” alert as a regular message, and not as as an Urgent Alert. If you’d like to revisit this policy, please raise the discussion with a post as a regular non-urgent message, and the group can talk more about that.

“I just got my waterbill and it was $7,432.09 for one month!!! I have had it!!!” (NOT FOR VHAlerts! post it as a regular non-urgent message instead)

“OMG, I can’t believe you saw a guy running around the neighborhood with a machete. That’s scary!” (NOT FOR VHAlerts! post it as a regular non-urgent message instead)

“Really?!” (NOT FOR VHAlerts!)

“Did you call 911?!” (NOT FOR VHAlerts! post it as a regular non-urgent message instead)

“Scary!” (NOT FOR VHAlerts!)

“What’s the world coming to?!” (NOT FOR VHAlerts!)

“It’s time we all arm ourselves!” (NOT FOR VHAlerts!)

“Arming ourselves is a bad idea!” (NOT FOR VHAlerts!)

“There’s a traffic jam due to rush hour traffic on 75N at the connector.” (There’s always traffic on the freeways, and this really isn’t about Virginia-Highland. NOT FOR VHAlerts!)

“There’s a tree branch that fell down on the sidewalk on Virginia Cir, can someone move it?” (unless there is risk of immanent harm to someone from the branch, post it as a regular non-urgent message instead)

“Please unsubscribe me” (To unsubscribe, just change your mobile and email preferences on Nextdoor Virginia-Highland)

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Next Step (2 of 3): Register>>

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