Toms River officials have another way to stay in touch with residents when emergency situations arise.
As of Nov. 27, the township's Office of Emergency Management has registered with the web-based Nixle service to send text and email messages to users. Residents can sign up for the service at no charge.
The service enables OEM officials "to send important, valuable community information directly to residents using the latest technology," according to a statement on the township's website.
Those messages may range from "emergency alerts, important advisories, community updates, and traffic information," according to Nixle. Additionally, public agencies in addition to those in Toms River can use the service to release important information.
To register, subscribers are asked to enter their cell phone number, email address and zip code. Once enrolled, users can opt out of receiving updates and define the senders who are allowed to distribute messages.
Several of Toms River's fire companies use Nixle to tell subscribers that an incident is in progress, and Toms River OEM Paul Daley said the fire companies' use of Nixle is what piqued his interest in adding the message system for OEM distributing OEM information.
The Nixle use is now in place, on top of a long time use of the Reverse 911 program, another way Toms River Police contacts residents.
Several Toms River officials have reported residents' frustration in receiving information after Hurricane Sandy, where widespread power outages, limited cell and internet connectivity and disruption of mail service were experienced by tens of thousands of residents.
The inclusion of the Nixle program is an attempt to better distribute messages, officials said.