03/07/2014 11:29 EST | Updated 05/07/2014 05:59 EDT

New Brunswick ice jam observers given laptops to improve reporting

FREDERICTON - Observers assigned by the New Brunswick government to watch for ice jams and possible flooding are being given laptop computers this season to speed up their reporting.

Public Safety Minister Bruce Northrup says the new system will enable alerts to be rapidly shared with other River Watch officials.

Northrup says the data can be shared with other provincial agencies to help with briefings, risk assessments and planning.

The province's annual flood watch starts Monday.

The River Watch program is a joint effort between the province's Environment Department and its Emergency Measures Organization.

Northrup says residents should report ice jam or rising water and have a plan to evacuate and be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.