WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — As early as Wednesday the town of Westborough will have a new way to relay important messages, said Director of Public Health Paul McNulty.
A radio transmitter, broadcasting on 1610 AM, will be put into use this week relaying health, traffic, emergency and informational messages to Westborough. Transmitting from the roof of the Forbes Municipal Building, the signal can be picked up anywhere within town borders.
"It's just another way for us to get important messages to the community, especially in the case of an emergency," McNulty said, noting that the system will be hooked up to the town's back-up generator. "This would be perfect in the case of a power outage where you could just go to your car, turn on the radio and listen to important information."
McNulty said he will make an announcement at Tuesday night's Board of Selectmen meeting about the completion of the installation. The transmitter is expected to be put into use full-time on Wednesday, after it returns from Northbridge, where it is being used for demonstration purposes.
"This is a regional asset," McNulty said. "If another town had an emergency this would be handed out to them."
The equipment, costing about $13,000, was obtained through a grant from the Region 2 (Worcester County) Public Health Preparedness Coalition. Region 2 polled the towns in Central Massachusetts for potential interest and has purchased seven transmitters so far. The Westborough Board of Health spearheaded the project.
"Not everyone said they wanted one," McNulty said. "I don't think everyone quite understands what this is, or how useful it can be."
Westborough has also purchased four large neon signs that will be placed at strategic locations when urgent messages are being played, specified for health, urgent and event. The next step, McNulty said, will be organizing training sessions for other town officials. At this point only McNulty and a select few know how to upload messages.
"The reaction [from town officials] has been positive," McNulty said. "we just need to get together and figure out the particulars."
The computerized voice operates on text-to-speech technology, and was used in a demonstration held at the Westborough Fire House. The transmitter likely will not operate 24 hours a day at first, but the Board of Health would like feedback about signal strength, clarity, comments or suggestions.
The Board of Health can be reached at 508-366-3045.