MU is currently installing emergency beacons equipped with strobe lights in classroom and administration buildings to compliment the MU Alert System.
The beacons will be programmed to flash in the event of an emergency. The beacons are connected through a system called Alertus, which also allows computer screens in labs and offices at the university to display emergency messages.
Other features of the emergency alert system include sirens, display screens with a typed message and a speaker to broadcast the alert.
“Currently we have 225 locations that we’re installing (the beacons) in, and they’re primarily in areas where large groups of people would be congregating,” Campus Facilities spokeswoman Karlan Seville said.
The university began installing the beacons, which cost $750 each, in mid-July. They are expected to be up and running by the start of fall semester.
This means students outside of lecture halls, classrooms, hallways and other public areas around campus will know when there is a critical situation.
“It’s just one more way to alert students and others on campus that there is a campus emergency, whether it’s weather or a critical emergency of some kind,” Seville said.
Once the beacons are in place, MU will also connect them to the current mass notification system, said Terry Robb, Division of IT marketing and strategic planning director.
“If there was a tornado warning (for example), it would automatically send to the beacons,” Robb said. “Otherwise, somebody would have to log onto the beacon system and send it.”
The notification system produces Facebook posts, Tweets, mass emails and texts for students, parents and faculty who sign up for the MU Alert system.
The notification system is also undergoing its own revamping.
In addition to Alertus, Seville said the university recently purchased a new system called Blackboard Connect, which will control all mass notifications except email.
“Professors and students use the technology program called Blackboard, an educational technology, in classrooms,” Seville said. “Blackboard Connect is a part of the Blackboard company, and it allows us to send all the different messages all from one system.”
MU tested the new emergency notification system during the summer, sending a emergency test message to students enrolled in summer classes.
Students can sign up for the mass notification system at mualert.missouri.edu.