The Benton County Alert System is available for free and it just takes minutes to sign up. It’s cutting-edge technology that alerts residents when severe weather is heading their way.
"We were the first in the U.S. to have the polygon system," said Joshua Billis, director for emergency communications for Benton County.
It’s a system linked to the National Weather Service Warning System. In the past, if there was a warning, the entire county would get an alert.
"We've modified it differently because we don't want our system to cry wolf," Billis said. "It only alerts the citizens that are in the immediate threat zone."
The county's Emergency Communications Department works 24 hours a day.
"One of our biggest threat around Northwest Arkansas is our weather," Billis said.
Billis recommends having weather radios, checking local media and signing up for the BC Alert System. He said you can get a 20- to-30 minute lead time before a storm hits.
"That's some good warning for you to at least start monitoring your local media, taking shelter or seeing what the storm is actually doing," Billis said.
Shannon Moyano, Rogers resident, said she’s signed up and is thankful for the warnings she receives.
"It's very beneficial especially in the middle of the night at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. where I've gotten updates and my phone is plugged-in next to my bed,” Moyano said. “So, I hear it right away."
Mike Fedricci moved to Bentonville about two months ago. He said he hadn’t heard of the alert system, but he is impressed with what it’s capable of doing.
“I haven't heard of that anywhere else I've been, so that's great," Fedricci said.
It's cutting edge technology that’s still evolving. Billis said they hope to integrate it with social media like Four Square, Facebook and even your iPod.
“If your cell is hitting a tower that’s in the affected area, no matter if you are a member of the system or not, you are going to get a free text," Billis said.
BC Alert isn't just about severe weather. It has dozens of other city and county warnings and updates. It'll tell you what to do, where to go and who to contact during an emergency.
Click here to sign up for the Benton County Alert System.
Click here to sign up for the Washington County's Code Red system.