Alerts/Smart 911 - FAQs

General Information

Why should I sign-up for Alerts powered by Smart911?

When emergencies happen, be the first to know. The city of Elgin uses Alerts powered by Smart911 to send official, real-time messages to the public with information about potentially life-saving actions they may need to take to keep themselves and their families safe. By signing up for Alerts powered by Smart911 you are taking a large step toward improving your personal safety.

How does it work?

When an emergency occurs that meets the criteria for sending out an alert to the public, the city of Elgin’s emergency dispatchers will gather the necessary information and push an alert to the affected area. Alerts can be sent out city-wide to everyone who has opted-in to the system, or to a specific area or neighborhood for more localized events.

How much does it cost?

This service is provided by the city of Elgin at no cost to the public; however, message and data rates may apply depending on your provider and phone services.

Can you guarantee that I will receive notification if I register?

While Alerts powered by Smart911 is an excellent system, we cannot guarantee that you will receive notification in all cases. Disasters and emergencies are chaotic and unpredictable, and notification is dependent on external providers such as your wireless carrier or email delivery service outside the city of Elgin’s control. Alerts powered by Smart911 will use several means of communications to try to ensure that should any one communications method, technology, or delivery option be unavailable to reach residents, other methods will be used to improve the likelihood that citizens will see the message.

Signing up

How do I sign-up for Alerts powered by Smart911?

Signing up for Alerts powered by Smart911 is easy! Go to and register your contact information.

Update your existing Alerts powered by Smart911 preferences.

Who can sign-up for Alerts powered by Smart911?

Alerts powered by Smart911 is available to anyone who lives, works, travels through, or visits the city of Elgin. The address can be your home location, work location, or any other location you care about.

Will I receive alerts if I don’t sign-up?

City of Elgin residents who have a landline phone may receive alerts. However, there are strict rules governing when the city of Elgin can use this contact information to send an alert. Only extremely critical alerts containing potentially life-saving information will be sent. In order to ensure that you are able to get all emergency alerts we recommend that you sign-up for Alerts powered by Smart911 online. If you do not sign-up and register your contact information, you will not receive alerts on your preferred devices, and may miss out on receiving important safety information.

I don’t own a computer – who can help me sign-up for Alerts powered by Smart911?

You can visit your local library to sign up online for Alerts powered by Smart911. Those who do not have computer access are also welcome to contact the city of Elgin’s 3-1-1 center for assistance.


What types of alerts will I receive?

Emergency alerts are sent 24/7 when there is an immediate threat to life and/or property. In addition to emergency alerts, you can also choose to receive customizable community notifications. These include notifications about:

  • Severe weather
  • Safety risks
  • Health risks
  • Street cautions
  • Special event information
  • Test messages.

Can I call the alert phone number back or reply back to the email?

You are not able to reply to texts or emails sent by Alerts powered by Smart911. Voice messages provide a dial-back number to replay an alert message.

When will I start receiving alerts?

Once you have signed up online at and confirmed your contact information within the system, you will begin receiving alerts.

How do I update or remove my notification preferences and contact information used by Alerts/Smart911?

Follow the below steps to change your Alerts powered by Smart911 preferences (for example, to reduce the number of messages of a certain type, or to change the contacts used for each kind of message):

  1. Access Alerts powered by Smart911.
  2. Login using your Alerts powered by Smart911 username and password (If you’ve forgotten these, follow the instructions on the page under “Forgot Username or Password?”).
  3. Once signed in, click the ‘Preferences’ tab at the top.
  4. Under ‘Notification Preferences’, you can make changes to both the phone numbers and email addresses on which you want to receive Alerts powered by Smart911 messages by clicking or unclicking the checkboxes.
  5. You can also choose what alerts you want to receive and the method you wish to receive them by (text, voice, email).

a. For example, if you wish to turn off all messages regarding Transportation Disruptions, simply uncheck the box to the left of “Transportation Disruption." b. If you wish instead only to receive emails for Transportation Disruption notifications, instead uncheck the “Text” and / or “Voice” choices, so that only “Email” remains checked.

How often will I receive alerts?

The frequency for which you receive alerts depends on the addresses you provide and the types of alerts you select to receive as well as the frequency of actual emergencies. Emergency alerts will only be sent when there is an immediate threat to life and/or property. Community notifications will be sent when the criteria for sending an alert are met. This system is not intended to bombard you with information. The city of Elgin will only send you alerts about the information you select to receive. To change your alert settings, edit your preferences.

How does the Alerts powered by Smart911 system respond to busy signals or no-answer situations?

If a call completes and is sent to your answering machine or voice mail system, a message is left. If a phone call is not answered or busy, the system redials your number several times.

You can securely provide information for first responders, too!

When you register for Alerts/Smart911, you also have the option of providing additional personal information. Seconds count in an emergency, and first responders who are better informed can help you faster. Smart911 can help with:

  • Mobile Phones: Over 70% of 911 calls come from mobile phones. These numbers are not listed with an address, and exact locations cannot always be determined by GPS. Smart911 displays the address of the mobile phone user and will track the call via GPS, even if the call is disconnected.
  • Missing Children: It can take up to an hour to acquire an accurate photo of a child and disseminate it. When you provide a child’s photo in your Smart911 profile, it can be forwarded immediately to officers in the field.
  • Unresponsive Callers: Individuals may not be able to speak because they are unconscious, have a medical condition or be in a situation where it is dangerous to speak. Smart911 medical information will be displayed so that first responders will know of existing medical conditions.
  • House Fire or Carbon Monoxide Alarms: The Smart911 profile can list family member, photos, bedroom locations and even pets to assist fire fighters in more quickly locating everyone to rescue or render aid.

What Details Are Shared?

You decide! Smart911 allows you to store any critical care and emergency rescue information in your online profile. Information can include children’s photos, medical conditions, vehicle information, home addresses of mobile phone callers, disabilities, or other rescue-related information. It is secure and confidential – see Smart911’s Privacy Policy.

Privacy and Contact Information

Will my information be disclosed or shared?

No, your information is private and will not be used or distributed in any manner. The information that you provide is exempt from public disclosure and will be used for emergency purposes only.

What precautions are taken to protect personal contact information stored in the Alerts powered by Smart911 system?

Personal information provided to Alerts powered by Smart911 is private and only used to notify you for official City of Elgin communications and to support the City of Elgin’s emergency services. Your information is not used for marketing purposes and will not be sold to telemarketers or data-mining organizations. A variety of “opt-in” mechanisms are available to ensure you are getting just the messages you want to receive, delivered via the devices and communications modes that you choose. Alerts powered by Smart911 utilizes the highest standards in physical and computer security technologies and conducts regular audits to ensure all information is kept secure. Privacy policies are also outlined in the Terms and Conditions you review when you sign up to receive Alerts powered by Smart911 notifications.