New campus notification system enhances emergency preparedness
Members of the University community can now quickly receive news and instructions during campus emergencies, thanks to a new notification system recently implemented by Princeton officials.
Through the Connect-ED service, campus leaders can send simultaneous alerts to individuals in a matter of minutes through landline phones, cellular phones, text messaging and e-mail. The system augments the communication tools the University already has in place to respond to a variety of crises, ranging from weather-related closings to unique emergency situations where time is of the essence.
"The recent events at Virginia Tech have shown that it's especially important to have this type of mass, emergency notification system that is capable of reaching our community members using several methodologies," Director of Public Safety Steven Healy said.
The University purchased the Connect-ED system in early April, days before the Virginia Tech shootings, after an extensive review of various emergency notification services.
Connect-ED can be used, for instance, to send targeted messages to certain individuals, such as people in a specific building or department, for alerts that do not concern the entire campus.
Messages are relayed through Connect-ED using the contact information provided by faculty, staff and students. Undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to update their contact information through the Student Course Online Registration Engine (SCORE) to ensure they receive critical information in an emergency. Faculty and staff should update their contact information through the Office of Human Resources self service website. All such information is secure and will remain private.
Garth Walters, head of the Emergency Preparedness Task Force and director of environmental health and safety, said the new system is a great addition to the notification methods already employed by Princeton. He said the University will continue to relay critical information through various means including: Web announcements, e-mail, an automated message line, the new Tiger TV emergency alert system and local radio stations.
However, Walters noted that Connect-ED is only as useful as the contact information people provide. He said it's especially important to register cell phone numbers so officials can reach faculty, staff and students wherever they may be located.
"The advantage of this system is that we can contact individuals directly rather than relying on people to check their e-mail or visit a website to view an announcement," Walters said. "With multiple points of contact, people can rest assured they will still be reached with important information even if they are not on campus or tuned into the local news."
The Connect-ED system allows individuals to register up to six phone numbers, in addition to e-mail and text messaging information. Students, faculty and staff should list their text message e-mail address as an alternate e-mail address on the SCORE and human resources websites. The text message e-mail address depends on the cell phone service provider, and several template addresses are listed below:
Alltel: PhoneNumber@alltell.com (example: If your cell phone number is (609) 123-4567, your text message e-mail address would be firstname.lastname@example.org)
AT&T Wireless: PhoneNumber@mmode.com
Sprint PCS: PhoneNumber@messaging.sprintpcs.com