Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Work Underway on Nearly $1 Million Upgrade to County's Emergency Outdoor Sirens, Reverse 911

July 25, 2012
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
County Executive


New County System Will Sound Targeted, Geographic Specific Warnings


Nearly one million dollars in upgrades to the county’s emergency warning system is underway, expanding the county’s ability to provide timely, accurate, life-saving warning information to the public, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today. 


Once completed, the new county warning system will have the ability to sound geographically targeted warnings – ensuring sirens sound in communities in the paths of storms but not in those out of harm’s way.


“Despite difficult economic times, the county is making a significant investment in our emergency warning systems to make them more effective and accurate,” said Parisi.  “These security and safety upgrades will bring state of the art protection to citizens across the county.”

Parisi made the announcement Wednesday at Segoe Park on Madison’s west side, located near one of 125 outdoor warning sirens in the county receiving upgrades this year.


Once complete, outdoor siren upgrades will enable the county’s system to synch with the National Weather Service’s storm-based warnings, providing more accurate warning to the public.


For example, if the National Weather Service predicts a storm is headed for Verona the upgraded system will ensure that the sirens will only sound for Verona and other communities in the storm’s path – not in other Dane County communities where the sun could be shining.


“The future is here.  Dane County is responding to changes in the public’s capacity to receive and act on warning information,” said Dane County Director of Emergency Management Charles Tubbs.  “The upgraded warning system not only incorporates existing technologies such as the sirens and email, but expands to smart phones and social media.  Our warning system is utilizing new technologies that have integrated into our lives.”


Outdoor warning sirens are only one component of the county’s emergency warning system, and are often not heard by families that are indoors during an emergency.  In an attempt to reach the public regardless of where they are during an emergency, the county provides a variety of warning options, in addition to sirens, to warn families of danger.


One example of this is the county’s Reverse 911™ system, and it will undergo a dramatic change as a part of the county’s warning system upgrades.


Currently, telephone notifications are available only to those who self-register their unlisted or cellular telephone numbers.  Under the county’s upgraded system, partnerships with local cell phone service providers will enable the county to send warnings to all cell phones automatically – registered numbers or not. 


Cell phone users must have a phone that is compatible with this Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), and can opt-out if they so choose.  Persons should check with their cellular provider to see if their cellular telephone is CMAS enabled.


The county’s upgraded system will also have the capability of posting alerts to online websites and other social media sites, in addition to e-mail alerts.


To sign up to receive emergency updates through Reverse 911 or e-mail, individuals are encouraged to visit the county’s Department of Emergency Management online at:


Emergency system upgrades are anticipated to be complete by this fall.  The total cost of the project is $811,315.


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