Skip to contents
Public Safety

As a Mass Shooting Unfolded in Atlanta, Some Of Us Got Text Alerts. Did You?

Here’s how you can sign up so you’re aware of public safety, weather, neighborhood, and school emergencies.

Law enforcement officers run near the scene of an active shooter Wednesday in Atlanta. The city sent an alert telling residents to avoid the area via its NotifyATL system. (Alex Slitz/Associated Press)

A mass shooting in Midtown on Wednesday afternoon left some residents confused about what was going on and what to do. Others received alerts on their phones and emails with warnings in real time.

“Active shooter incident in Midtown — Shelter in place! Please avoid the area surrounding West Peachtree St., 14th St., 12th St., 11th St., & 10th St.,’’ read a message via the city of Atlanta’s NotifyATL alert system that went to phones around 1:30 p.m., roughly an hour after the Atlanta Police Department received an emergency call from the 11th floor of Northside Medical Midtown that there was an active shooter present.

APD charged 24-year-old Deion Patterson with one count of murder and four counts of aggravated assault. One person died in the shooting and four others are at Grady Memorial Hospital with serious injuries. Patterson is currently in the Fulton County jail and waived his first court appearance.

In a country where mass shootings are happening with alarming regularity, local government alerts are one way to stay informed about what’s happening and how to stay safe. So, how can you stay looped in on major developments in Atlanta?

We break down what the NotifyATL alert system does, and how you can stay looped in and keep yourself safe.

What is NotifyATL?

A service provided by ATL 311, the city’s nonemergency hotline. The system allows those who opt in to receive timely updates on severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons, crime alerts, and business and neighborhood evacuations. You can also use NotifyATL to get updates about events that may affect your home, job, and kids’ schools.

Where are the alerts sent? 

NotifyATL alerts users via text messages, voicemail on your phone — smartphone, home, or business — email and more.

How do I subscribe, and can I manage what alerts are sent?

You sign up for alerts here. 

To create an account, you must provide an email address or phone number where you can be reached.

You will also be asked to provide a primary location and verify the address. When you click the verify address button, you will have to confirm that the address matches the location on a map generated by Google.

Once you have successfully created an account and selected your preferred language, then you can select which alerts you would like to be subscribed to. Those alert options are:

All NotifyATL Alerts

  • Emergency and Public Safety
  • City Government Closure
  • City Service Changes

Automated Weather Alerts

  • Flash Flood Warning 
  • Freezing Rain Warning
  • Ice Storm Warning
  • Snow Storm Warning
  • Winter Storm Warning
  • Excessive Heat Warning
  • Freeze Warning
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning

Side note: You will be automatically subscribed to tornado watch and warning alerts. 

That’s a lot of potential stress coming into my inbox. Can I mute alerts?

For public safety alerts — no. You would have to uncheck the box tied to that specific alert. For weather, however, you can use the system’s “Quiet Period” option, which does just that. The feature allows you to opt out of the weather alerts at certain times of the day, for example you could choose not to get alerts between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Is my contact info being shared?

Nope. The info you provide is used only to provide relevant geographic info to you. The city of Atlanta says those who opt in do not need to be worried about their contact info being shared outside of the system.