Play it Safe: Sign Up for Text Messages Alerts
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
August 20, 2008
The sky turned an eerie gray. The wind picked up and a siren sounded, coupled with a verbal warning to seek shelter. And the desired effect was immediate: kids ran down the street, heading for Stoke Hall; the fields cleared of athletes attending sports camps.
During the severe weather that struck the region last month, UNH had the chance to test its emergency alert system implemented after the Virginia Tech tragedy. And everything worked like clockwork.
In addition to the warning system, anyone who had previously signed on with Roam Secure also got word of the weather threat on their cell phones via a text message. There were updates throughout the event and an all-clear was sent when the situation was deemed safe.
Roam Secure is a Virginia-based company specializing in emergency communication.
University officials are encouraging those who aren’t enrolled in service to sign on so they have one more way to stay informed during an emergency. To sign up go to (https://alert.unh.edu/index.php?CCheck=1).
The information sharing system can send more than 18,000 messages per minute to cell phones, emails or PDAs. It provides another level of safety, according to Paul Dean, UNH deputy police chief and emergency operations coordinator.
“We’re looking for redundancy so if you don’t get this, you will get this or this,” Dean said.
Roam Secure is just one piece in UNH’s comprehensive safety plan. Directed communications reach 22,000 people. Student Alert, the mass notification system donated by alumnus John Olson, president and CEO of Whelen Engineering Company, combines a siren with verbal instructions broadcast via outdoor speakers. The siren can be heard for seven miles.
Dean says UNH is working on having five levels of redundancy to make sure everyone has a way to get information in a crisis. Plans for the future include signs alerting anyone entering campus to tune to a particular radio station and amber strobe lights in buildings that would flash during an emergency.