September 8, 2016

So … Did You Get the Message?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 3:00 pm


After Windstorm 2015, the Kootenai County Office of Emergency Management was justifiably criticized for its failure to timely and uniformly notify county residents of relevant storm-related information.  One county notification system, HipLink, was supposed to provide text messages via landline and cell phone to subscribers.

HipLink didn’t work, but our whizbang Office of Emergency Management in conjunction with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office said they’d fix it.  We didn’t hold our breath.

According to this Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper article online dated September 4, 2016, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office was supposed to send a test message of the “fixed” text and cell phone messaging system.

Since Windstorm 2015 we have subscribed to the County’s HipLink notification and the City’s NIXLE notification system.

We’re curious.  Did anyone receive the Wednesday 10 a.m. test message promised by the Sheriff’s Office?

We’ve received no test messages from either system.  Ever.


  1. Nothing like transparency

    Comment by Sharon Culbreth — September 8, 2016 @ 4:34 pm

  2. Another OpenCdA reader contacted me via email to report that reader did receive the message.

    Comment by Bill — September 8, 2016 @ 5:47 pm

  3. Don’t you know the system is highly sophisticated and operates on a ‘need-to-know’ basis?

    Comment by Tributary — September 8, 2016 @ 6:11 pm

  4. Tributary,

    Details! Details! However, I had subscribed, or at least I think I did. The subscription does not send a confirming message, so I can’t be sure. I hope that to determine the system’s effectiveness, the County calls each subscriber to determine those who did and did not receive the message.

    Comment by Bill — September 8, 2016 @ 8:33 pm

  5. I did receive the message. I wonder why it took the county so much time to set this up. I think it a good thing that no county-wide emergencies occurred since the windstorm last year.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — September 9, 2016 @ 7:53 am

  6. Susie,

    Thank you for commenting. The HipLink system is the County’s system, not the City’s (unless the City has dumped NIXLE). HipLink had been at a stage of unreadiness and unreliability for quite some time before Windstorm 2015.

    The County needs to contact every HipLink subscriber and determine who did and did not receive the Wednesday test message. The County also needs to determine how long it took for the 10 a.m. message to be received by each recipient. I don’t know what the County pays for HipLink, but the system’s reliability, reachability, and timeliness are measurable. If the system fails on reliability, reachability, or timeliness, then the County needs to either fix HipLink or replace it with something that meets its objectives.

    The County also needs to provide a unique identifier on each message other than the original identifying telephone number. Many people will delete before reading messages from unrecognized telephone numbers.

    I’m unconvinced that the County is willing to put as much effort as it should to have a notification and continuing information system that is easily and readily available to citizens without requiring any special equipment beyond what most people already have in their homes and vehicles.

    Comment by Bill — September 9, 2016 @ 11:43 am

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