Colleges Adopting Mass Text-Alert Systems For Emergencies


From bigger guns for campus police to mass text-messaging systems to warn of emergencies, colleges are ramping up security and communications systems – part of the fallout from the Virginia Tech massacre in April, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The challenge is, how do you reach everybody?” said Joe Cardona of Rowan University, which held a full-scale drill last week to test new security procedures with a pretend shooter on campus and at least a dozen victims. “Up until now, we sent out e-mails. But who’s checking e-mails during the day?”

That was one of the lessons of Virginia Tech, where most students were unaware that a gunman was roaming the sprawling campus, eventually killing 32 people at two locations. Drexel University in Philadelphia rolled out a new GPS handheld device that allows anyone on campus with a cell phone to communicate with security patrols. Omnilert, which makes the e2Campus text alert system, said 175 colleges had signed up for the service, up from 30 in April. The system sends a message in multiple ways, including cell-phone texts, voice mail, and digital signs in public places such as student unions or dorms. Anyone who signs up, including faculty and parents, will get a warning in the event of a calamity.


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