April 18, 2023

Real-Time Notifications are the Best Way to Get Fast, Reliable Information During SITW Festival

Residents, visitors and festivalgoers can opt in by texting ‘SITW’ to 67283.
Someting in the Water Event Text alert Information

During the 2019 Something In The Water festival, the City of Virginia Beach utilized text alerts, providing reliable and instant information throughout the festival weekend to those who opted in. This important tool was especially useful on the first day of festivities when severe storms rolled off the coast. The inclement weather on Friday afternoon and evening caused festival and City organizers to send out alerts warning festivalgoers to seek shelter and calmly disperse from the beach and boardwalk.

The SITW festival was the first time the RAVE Alert system was used to send out real-time updates related to any communication needs before and during the festival, according to Emergency Communications & Citizen Services Director Jada Lee.

“We [ECCS] specifically got the opt-in text service for Something In The Water and utilized the ‘shortcodes,’” Lee said. “I would say it was successful. It was the best way to reach a large number of people during the event.”

A total of 9,243 subscribers opted in to receive alerts and emergency notifications by entering “SITW” to a specific 5-digit number. This year, users can text “SITW” to 67283 to start receiving updates before and during the festival.

At the end of the festival in 2019, a poll was sent out to subscribers asking them to rate the event—ECCS received more than 1,727 responses. Lee said most of the responses were positive and included comments such as:

“Thanks. It was the best festival in my 48 years living here!!!! Well done!”

“As a local (as in North End resident), I signed up for weekend notifications. I must tell you I was not bothered in the least by the crowds & look forward to having SITW next spring.”

About 20 messages were sent during the 2019 festival, mostly weather-related updates. People who received those texts were able to reply and the ECCS team could see the responses. There was an influx of replies from users asking about refunds due to the cancellation of Day 1. ECCS shared the information with the promoter, and they quickly sent out information about partial refunds for passholders.

311 was the go-to phone number for anything festival related and non-emergency. Questions asked ranged from “My car was towed. Where is it?” to “How do I get there?” or “What time do certain streets close?” Some callers also left accolades about public workers who were helpful during the event.

“People who called in and lived at the beach used 311 asking for help getting home during road closures,” she said. “311 was the information hub. It really took a lot of the workload off the 911 side of the house.”

Lee said 311 staff were given real-time information to ensure they could answer residents’ questions accurately. She wants residents and visitors to remember that 911 should only be used in an emergency or for potential loss of life or property. Visitors who have wireless service with T-Mobile, AT&T or Verizon can just dial 311 to get information or relay concerns. The outside number to dial is (757) 385-3111.

911 and 311 call stats during SITW 2019

Something In The Water - Text SITW to 67283 to receive text updates

Important RAVE Alert and 311 information

  • Text SITW to 67283 (standard messaging rates will apply)
  • Dial 311 or (757) 385-3111 or use the 311 Live Agent.
  • Only call 911 used in an emergency or for potential loss of life or property. Please stay on the line until your call is answered and to keep your place in the queue.
  • You can also Text-to-911. Texting should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services. Non-emergency issues should still be communicated by calling the non-emergency number, (757) 385-5000.

To stay in the know about how to navigate this fun weekend at the Oceanfront, you can:

If you are looking for festival-specific updates like tickets, lineup information, VIP access and more, visit the official website for SOMETHING IN THE WATER at somethinginthewater.com or download the SOMETHING IN THE WATER app.

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