Oregon State adopts emergency alert system

October 17th, 2008

An announcement on behalf of the OSU Public Safety Office came across campus today. I’ve quoted it in its entirety for accuracy sake:

OSU Launches Emergency Alert System for Students, Faculty, Staff

Major campus emergencies at colleges in Virginia, Louisiana, Delaware and Tennessee over the past year and a half have caused concern for all of us in higher education. Are we doing all we can to keep our institutions safe? If we were to confront a safety crisis at our own university, how well prepared are we to provide timely, accurate information to students, faculty and staff?

In response to those questions, Oregon State University led an effort over the past year to acquire an emergency communication system for ourselves and our higher education peer institutions that resulted this summer in the selection of the Blackboard Connect-ED Service. This new system dramatically enhances our emergency communications capabilities, making it possible to send out rapid-response messages through multiple channels to huge numbers of recipients all in a flash. Because each OSU individual participating in this system will be able to associate up to six phone numbers, two e-mail addresses and one text-message number with himself/herself, emergency communications will be accessible whether the person is at an office, moving about campus, at home or elsewhere.

While the system will be tested several times a year, it won’t be used for anything other than emergency communications – no “spam� e-mail, promotion of university events or regular announcements. Examples of events for which the system would be used include hazardous materials incidents, major weather concerns and significant law enforcement matters. Contact information in the system will not be shared with or sold to other entities under any circumstance.

Toward the goal of making this new system as helpful to us all as possible, we’ve begun by importing 26,000 faculty, staff and student names, their corresponding ONID e-mail addresses and office phone numbers (where available). We encourage you to access the system through alert.oregonstate.edu and input additional telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for your individual record. You’ll need your university ID number and ONID e-mail address to log in. Individuals interested in opting out of the system may do so by calling the OSU Computer Help Desk at 737-3474, but we would encourage you to think carefully before doing so: In the event of an emergency, our Blackboard Connect-ED system will be OSU’s primary means of communication to employees and students. If you’re not in the system, you could miss critical, safety-related information.

Joining us in launching Blackboard Connect-Ed this fall are Oregon Institute of Technology, Southern Oregon University, Eastern Oregon University, Portland Community College, Lewis & Clark College and Corban College and Graduate School ; other Oregon postsecondary institutions are considering joining this consortium and may do so, under the terms of the agreement that was negotiated. Together, we look forward to providing a new level of emergency communications and service for our campuses and a safer environment for us all.

For more information on the, contact OSU Public Safety Director Jack Rogers at 737-8321.

While campus safety is a concern among many college students and their families, OSU has thankfully done very well in that department.

-bv

5 Responses to “Oregon State adopts emergency alert system”

  1. Jordans says:

    After the Virgina Shooting (I live in MD) I felt that my school as well needed to upgrade on the safety for us students. Hopefully new ways will be brought up in keeping us the students safer.

  2. What I am interested in is cost. I heard once before how much such a system cost and it was astronomical. The technology seems rather simple so the cost was really a surprise.

    Whatever the cost I believe it absolutely necessary. Just today another school shooting and while isolated, shows how vulnerable students are.

  3. James says:

    @CI,

    I don’t know the cost offhand. You are right, the system is quite expensive. That’s why it was purchased as a partnership with other schools in Oregon.

    Expensive but well worth the cost.

  4. Jordans says:

    I agree with you James. No price can be put on a human life. Nice move OSU!

  5. It’s hard to say whether this was really necessary, but if the funds allowed it, then why not?

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