The university’s emergency preparedness system, TU-Alert, will be tested on Oct. 3 after being taken over by Campus Safety Services this semester. The system existed for nearly a year, but was previously controlled by Computer Services.
Moira Stoddart, project manager for Campus Safety Services, said the goal of TU-Alert is to inform students about emergencies and dangerous situations on or around campus. Serious incidents that would be reported include criminal activities, severe weather conditions and the release of hazardous materials. If necessary, it would also direct students on what to do to keep themselves safe.
“An emergency alert will be issued for any incident where communication is vital and immediate action is required,” Stoddart said. “Temple University is trying to get a communication plan effective for students in case of emergency. That’s our ultimate goal.”
The system is set up to send messages through e-mails, text messages and voicemails. Students will be notified by these outlets if they provided Computer Services with their phone number. The alerts require students to sign up, and approximately 30 percent of students would receive a text message in the event of an emergency.
An alert siren has been considered to sound in cases of catastrophic emergencies, where an immediate warning is necessary. Currently, there is no plan for employing a siren, as the rules and regulations for its use are not in place. Stoddart said the focus was on the alert system, since the type of emergencies it will be used for are far more common than requiring a loud public warning.
All alert messages received by students come from the president’s office, the vice president of operations, the vice president of Computer Services and the executive and deputy directors of Campus Safety Services. There are protocols in place for when message will be typed and sent to students.
TU-Alert is different than the Temple advisory e-mails the university sends out.
“The TU-Alert is only used with the threat of continuous harm,” Stoddart said. “Advisories are for information only, [when] no action needs to be taken.”
Students receive advisories and TU-Alert e-mails more so than text messages.
“We’ve been slow in marketing to students,” Stoddart said. “We’re hoping to get more and more registered.”
Campus Safety Services has placed a link titled Emergency Notification Information on OWLnet for students to sign up for alerts. Postcards will also be handed out in several locations on campus to provide students with directions on how to register.
“This is just the beginning of a huge campaign,” Stoddart said.
Gregory Weber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.