Dane County Launches $3 Million Upgrade to Outdoor Warning Siren Network

April 19, 2023
Ariana Vruwink, 608-267-8823
County Executive, Emergency Management

Public Safety Improvement to Modernize Technology Used to Help Alert Public to Severe Weather Warnings


Dane County is marking this year’s Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week by announcing a new $3 million upgrade to its siren control system, County Executive Joe Parisi announced today. These controls connect the network of 141 outdoor warning sirens located across Dane County that are used to help warn the public of incoming severe weather.

“Rapid, reliable siren activation in times of emergencies is essential to public safety," Parisi said. “Investing in these improvements says even in this day and age of cellphones and other ways to get warnings we think outdoor sirens continue to be an important piece of the system needed to help keep people safe.”

Parisi noted Dane County was among the first counties to work with the National Weather Service to automate sounding sirens as soon as weather warnings are issued. This process occurs due to the technology the county is now upgrading.

The County Executive included $3 million in the 2023 county budget for the siren system improvements. Those dollars will help the county buy new equipment and replace the hardware and software that triggers when and how outdoor warning sirens are sounded. The new central control software will allow Dane County to take advantage of current and emerging severe weather warning methodologies.

“This project reflects a continuing partnership between local, county, state, and federal agencies to get warning information out to residents faster,” Dane County Emergency Management Director Charles Tubbs said.

There are 141 outdoor warning sirens across the county. 79 of them are owned by the county while 62 others are local government owned. Dane County runs the network that links all of those sirens so they can be seamlessly tested, monitored, and activated when needed. The system upgrade will replace aging hardware as well as purchase new central control software that will automatically sound appropriate sirens in areas the National Weather Service feels are at greatest risk from a severe storm.  

The full siren system upgrade is expected to be completed later this year.