FREMONT — It's hard for anyone to ignore the speed at which information travels these days.
Whether it be via text message, e-mail, Twitter or other social media sites, information is moving around the globe faster than anyone would have imagined.
Now the Fremont Police Department is taking advantage of that on a more local scale.
Last week, it began using a program called Nixle to send information about some cases to residents in specific neighborhoods.
The program sends a text message and e-mail alert to those who subscribe to the free service.
"This will not replace the Code Red (phone) system, but it will supplement it," said Detective Bill Veteran, a spokesman for the department.
For years, the city has used a telephone program to quickly send recorded alerts to some neighborhoods when necessary, such as an order to stay in their homes because of a dangerous situation in the neighborhood.
But with Nixle, police can send more specific messages — urgent or not — and better pinpoint the recipients.
"We can narrow it down to as small as a quarter of a mile," Veteran said.
Unlike with the phone system, police can use Nixle to send photos or other attachments to supplement the information they are providing in a variety of situations, including missing persons cases.
Veteran said the department plans to send several messages a week, including missing persons alerts, updates about public works projects, warning about traffic conditions or a rash of burglaries, and even police "blotter" items.
Capt. Frank Grugrina, who oversees the department's communications systems, said police are excited about the program because it's an up-to-date method.
"We want to move forward with Web 2.0 and various communication methods like everyone else in their daily life," the captain said. "We want to better communicate with residents and give them timely information."
Fremont is the first Bay Area agency to use the program. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office and San Jose Police Department also plan to use Nixle soon.
Contact Ben Aguirre Jr. at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/benaguirrejr.