BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Starting Monday, an essential service in Biloxi will be changing. The city will be switching its B-Alert texting service to another provider.
The service began in 2018 for spring break to help with traffic flow and now it has become a year-round necessity.
“Number 1, it tells the public what’s going on their roadways,” said Vincent Creel, Biloxi’s public affairs manager. “The second thing it does, is that it helps our public safety people. If we’ve got a police officer out directing traffic, this helps reduce the traffic where he is. It also reduces the number of calls to our dispatchers.”
But the current contract is ending, and because the service provider wanted more money than the city was prepared to pay, officials changed to another company.
“We had unlimited texting until COVID struck and then the new contract was going to have a fee per text,” Creel said. “We sent a grand total of 2.5 million texts last year, that was 250 texts to an audience of 10,000. And the price would have increased from $8,000 to $24,000.”
Creel said this new contract with Code Red will provide the same service and cost the city $8,000 a year for three years. Even if you are currently receiving the texts, you have to make the change yourself, but the process is simple.
All you have to do is text BILOXI to 99411, and you’re in. And that’s just as simple as the information you receive.
“In today’s world, there’s a lot of clutter out there,” said Creel. “You get a lot of information. This is simply a text message directed from the city of Biloxi. We don’t see how it can get much easier than that.”
Right now, about 3,000 people have signed up for the service, and Creel expects that number to get back up soon.
“We’re thinking it’s going to grow as we get more bridge closures, more road closures,” said Creel. “And, quite frankly, more special events.”