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by Whitney Kenerly & Brittany Mollis

Items from across the Triad and beyond

WINSTON-SALEM INTRODUCES NEW NOTIFICATION SYSTEM

The Winston-Salem Police Department has installed a new notification system that allows residents to receive both emergency and non-emergency notifications via text, email or voicemail.

Residents are encouraged to visit CityofWS.org and click on the “Citizen Notification” link on the site. The new system requires that citizens give their address so that notifications can be sent based on where an individual resides.

Once an address is given, a map will appear on the screen that will require the individual to verify that the address that they gave is correct.

Winston-Salem’s previous system, Reverse911, was only able to reach citizens via landline telephones. This system, which allows citizens to register up to four telephone numbers, is able to send texts, emails or voicemails based on the individual preference. It also gives citizens the option to receive notifications about special meetings, notices, news and reminders when garbage collection is postponed by a holiday or disrupted by a winter storm.

“Emergency notifications provide an important means of alerting citizens of missing persons, criminal activity or hazardous conditions, such as flooding, fires, a chemical spill or a water main break in their neighborhoods,” Conley said. “As more and more citizens give up their landlines, finding a way to reach people who only have cellphones has become an important public safety issue. The new system gives us that ability and more – but we need our citizens to register.” (via press release) Once registered, citizens can change notification preference or address at any time.

“We have structured this so citizens have control over their information and how it is used,” Conley said. “We urge everyone in Winston-Salem to sign up for the Citizen Notification System.”

PROPOSAL FOR PARTICIPATORY BUDGET IN GREENSBORO TO BE SENT TO CITY COUNCIL

The Participatory Budget Committee met on Thursday afternoon to discuss a proposal to implement Participatory Budgeting in Greensboro.

Greensboro is looking to other cities that are launching a Participatory Budget and hopes that establishing such a program here would both restore public confidence in city government’s fiscal management and build social capital.

The subcommittee is proposing that each of the five city districts would be allotted $100,000 in funds for projects that would be voted on by residents. Each district would host its own participatory budget meeting, open to the public, to decide how to use the funds.

Members of the subcommittee affirmed that the overall goal of Participatory Budgeting is to encourage the participation and involvement of the people of Greensboro.

Members discussed examples of the types of projects that could be funded through a Participatory Budget, and some members voiced concern about the limitations of citizen power within such a program. For large community projects like recreation centers, libraries or parks, budget decisions and funds are allocated years before ground is even broken.

Participatory Budgeting has seen positive results in some communities in which funds have been used to add sidewalks or improve conditions in neighborhood schools. The major challenge of Participatory Budgeting in Greensboro would be to ensure that a large and diverse group of citizens attend budget meetings in each district.

Members of the subcommittee unanimously agreed that they wanted to make a recommendation to City Council to start the Participatory Budget process in Greensboro beginning in 2016. !

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