FINGAL COUNTY Council has explained its decision to stop using RTE's Aertel service to deliver information to the public following a call for it to return to the service.
Cllr Darragh Butler asked that the council reinstate its page on Aertel, calling it a 'vital source of information to more elderly Fingal residents who do not use the internet'. But the council explained that the service was costly and there was no way to measure its effectiveness. In a written response to Cllr Butler, the local authority explained: 'Use of the Aertel service incurred a cost to the council in the region of €12,300 pa (incl vat).
'Although anecdotal evidence in the past indicated that the Aertel page was useful as a complementary means of getting out emergency notices, there is no way of accurately measuring its effectiveness and RTE, who provide the service, cannot give us a breakdown of how and when our Aertel page is accessed. 'Only one other local authority still uses the Aertel service and based on a recent review of its effectiveness and overall value for money, a decision was taken to terminate the use of Aertel in favour of measurable and cost effective means of communication.
'Until recently Aertel was used by Fingal County Council as part of a range of traditional and electronic communication tools used to get information out to the general public at times of unexpected disruption to council services including water supply problems, road and travel disruptions and extreme weather events.' The council detailed the other ways it communicates withe the public, saying: 'These tools also include emails, website updates, Twitter updates, notification to the council's out of hours call centre service, contact with the Fire Service, Civil Defence, AA Roadwatch, An Gardai Siochana, emails and text messages to councillors and news alerts and press releases to local and national radio and TV outlets.
'The combined effect of all of these channels (both online and offline) taken together is that the level of knowledge in the wider community at times of service disruption is very good and is often shared further between neighbours and by community networks like residents' associations for example. 'As a result of increased use of the council website to provide information it means it is often easier for any member of the public without internet access to contact us by phone directly during office hours or via the council's out-of-hours call centre outside of these times.