Steps Forward in Customer Service
In 2006, the City Council launched the Customer Service Initiative. Now, after two years of behind-the-scenes research, reorganization, and technology and training investments, it’s ready to go public. The first big step was the January launch of the City’s new website. The new site is better organized and easier for residents, visitors, and staff. The next major step forward is the creation of a centralized call center. Residents and customers will be able to call a three-digit number to do almost any City business, including things like pay parking tickets, make appointments for inspections, or find out library hours. While the three-digit number isn’t live yet, the call center is already answering several of the City’s existing customer service phone numbers.
Did You Know...
...that in an emergency, you could receive a phone call from the City with information about damaged roads, water-boil orders, and other dangerous conditions in your neighborhood? The Berkeley Emergency Notification System (BENS) allows the City to call residents at home to give them critical public safety information. This service is also known as an "outdialer" or a "reverse 911" system and is for emergency notifications.
One of the essential features of this system is that it allows the City to deliver a message to a specific geographical area. For example, if a residential area were threatened by a wildfire, the residents that have AT&T landline phone service would receive an evacuation message.
For the first time, residents can register alternate phone numbers as well.
There are three ways to register:
- Visit http://www.alertregistration.com/berkeley/. You will be asked for your physical address and your cell phone will be connected to that address. We need your address because calls are often made to specific geographic areas such as streets, blocks or neighborhoods. Visit the registration page again to update your address or phone numbers.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Call the FirstCall Network Registration Line at (866) 484-3264. The Registration Line is a toll-free number for members of a community with unlisted or cell phone numbers to call and register to be part of the program.
For more information about BENS, visit the Office of Emergency Services.
Photo: Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong displays the gear provided to six student groups. The student groups signed contracts, promising future residents would also receive the disaster training. Photo Credit: Steve McConnell, UC Berkeley NewsCenter.
140 Quiet Years on the Hayward Fault
October 21 is the 140th anniversary of the last big earthquake on the Hayward Fault. Why does that matter? The average interval between the fault’s big shakes is 140 years.
The Hayward Fault runs south from Point Pinole through Memorial Stadium to Milpitas (USGS map here). Public agencies and private organizations all over the East Bay have organized to alert people to the danger of the Hayward Fault and promote earthquake preparedness and mitigation. The 1868 Hayward Earthquake Alliance website has historical pictures, news stories, and many preparedness resources.
There may be nothing we can do to stop an earthquake, but there’s plenty we can do to prepare. Berkeley took the unusual step this year of using federal funds to provide training and emergency supplies to six student groups. The gear is identical to the gear in 33 other neighborhood groups and the training and supplies will help ensure that the students can take care of themselves in a natural disaster. This is the first program in the nation to train and equip students, and will be a model for other university communities across the country.
To find out what you and your neighbors can do to prepare, visit www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/getready
Gilman Street Fields Kick-Off!
Come celebrate the Grand Opening of the Regional Sports Fields at Gilman Street on Saturday, September 6 at 10:30 a.m., at the foot of Gilman (visit http://www.ebparks.org/news/08262008 for more information). The fields are a joint effort of the state, the East Bay Regional Park District and five contributing cities – Berkeley, Albany, Richmond, Emeryville and El Cerrito, and everyone is invited!