Colorado Springs City Council learns more about new evacuation plan software on Monday

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – Council members received an hour-long presentation on Monday from a representative of Zonehaven, the Oregon-based company that provides software to help manage the new evacuation plan for city ​​emergency.

City of Colorado Springs

This plan received final council approval two weeks ago and will divide the city into areas to prioritize during a wildfire or other emergency; ideally, only several areas at a time would be evacuated and/or put on standby to avoid long traffic jams – as was the case during the Waldo Canyon fire in 2012.

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Zonehaven representative Stephen Sickler said the company has worked with dozens of other communities to provide similar software as part of a “toolkit” that dramatically reduces evacuation times without releasing maps. , determining the duration of evacuations or clearing evacuation routes in advance — something opponents have demanded.

“And I think when you look at the body of it all, it really creates a lot of confusion,” Sickler said. “Let me try to fix this for you.”

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Opponents said another piece of software – Fleet – offers many of the benefits they wish Zonehaven didn’t have, but wonder if it’s possible for the city to integrate the two.

However, the possibility is being explored by Tom Strand, Chairman of the Council.

City of Colorado Springs

Several Board members asked questions and raised concerns, but were generally satisfied with the information provided in the presentation.

“We still, unfortunately, have a lot of mistrust and anger from some (opponents) about the order we have,” Councilor Nancy Henjum said. “One of the things I’ve heard them say or worry about is connectivity issues – like a cell tower going down due to fire or whatever, and notifications can’t be sent or So if you could talk about that?

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Sickler said Zonehaven has access to technology in which audio notifications can be sent through pre-installed speakers.

“(We) can (turn off) these speakers, and they have a backup satellite connection, solar power, backup batteries,” he explained. “So as long as that speaker isn’t on fire, you can broadcast messages through the speaker – and they can go, depending on the topography, up to a mile or two. The speakers are the only recourse I can see for areas that have consistently unreliable cell service.”

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Bill Wysong, a member of Westside Watch and the Mountain Shadows Community Association, said opponents are currently exploring a third option to the two software tools.

“We are working with another evacuation management company that will allow people – there will be a fee – and they will give you information that it will take X hours to get out,” he said.

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For more information, visit: https://www.westsidewatch.org/.

The next step is for officials to launch a “Know Your Zone” campaign to educate citizens about the new evacuation plan.

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