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Melbourne bars using text alerts to enhance security

Communication system developed after fights, crime in downtown

MELBOURNE, Fla. – After fights in downtown Melbourne resulted in a death and a serious injury on Halloween weekend in 2014, local bars and restaurants began seeking ways to enhance security.

Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports the Downtown Melbourne Hospitality Association started meeting on a regular basis to discuss nightlife safety. The consensus was that there was a need for real-time communication about unruly patrons.

That's when Clint Hill, the community liaison for the Space Coast Tech Council, offered to devise a streamlined communication system for downtown bars.

What he came up with is a free text message system which utilizes open source software and allows Melbourne bar managers to send emergency alerts on their cell phones. The alert system has been in its testing phase for approximately two weeks, and Hill hopes that eventually, bars throughout Brevard County will be able to sign up for the program, and thereby prevent alcohol-related crimes and accidents.

"The cool thing about these SMS alerts is that it doesn't matter if you've got a smartphone or a flip phone. You can receive the messages no matter what," he said of the Short Message Service technology. "It's a program that's meant to prevent crime as opposed to just responding to crime."