As a Monday Facebook and Instagram outage stretched into an hours-long social media hiatus, local city governments and departments found themselves temporarily unable to reach the thousands of users they usually connect with on a regular basis.
That included Celina’s city, fire and police department pages, which like many others were inaccessible for multiple hours. Donna Lynch, the city’s director of marketing, communications and events, said a Facebook outage like the one that happened on Monday, while rare, severely impacts communication.
The city’s Facebook page has roughly 11,000 followers, and the Celina Police Department page has 14,000. The Celina Fire Department page has 4,000. Monday’s outage, which began before noon and had a worldwide impact, lasted for hours.
“Facebook is kind of our main form of connection outside of our website,” Lynch said. “We interact with people there all the time. Every day they’re messaging us, and so when something like Facebook goes down, it really does impact our communication out to the residents. That’s why it’s very important, especially for those emergency situations, that they be signed up with our app online so that we can communicate with them that way via text.”
Lynch said residents can sign up for emergency alerts through the city website.
Captain Justin Beamis with the Celina Fire Department said the city uses CodeRED, a mobile alert system, to send alerts to community members.
Residents and members of the business community have to sign up and should not assume they’re registered, according to the department website.
“All businesses should register, as well as all individuals who have unlisted phone numbers, who have changed their phone number or address within the last year and who use a cellular phone as their primary home phone,” the website states.
Beamis said the CodeRED and WeatherALERT systems will directly tie into people’s cell phones and will send a message with any pertinent information that allows them to stay safe or avoid an area.
“I don’t think the sign up was as successful as we had hoped for, but it is our emergency alert system we can tie directly to our citizens,” Beamis said.
Beamis said the department’s Twitter page also serves as an alternative system to communicate information about large-scale events or immediate information.
Lynch said the city’s Celina Life Connected App allows residents to communicate with the city and report issues like potholes or connect to the city’s website.