MU prepares for emergency notification test
Registration for the system has increased dramatically in the last month.
Oct. 03, 2008
In about a month, MU's emergency alert system will run it's first test.
The percentage of students who have registered their cell phone information with the system, run through vendor 3N, or National Notification Network, rose from 29 percent to 59 percent between Aug. 26 and Sept. 3.
The increase took place during MU's one-week push for students to register information on myZou.
The percentage of students who registered their contact information also jumped from 12 percent to 38 percent.
"The university is definitely pleased with these increases in registration because safety of students and faculty is a top priority for us," UM system
spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said. "We're glad to see this option on myZou encouraged students to register."
In the event of an emergency, the system, which was first instituted in the UM system in November 2007, would activate a sequence of alerts. The first alert would be a call to students' cell phones, followed by a text message and then an e-mail. Students would have to confirm they received the alert by either responding to the text or by pushing a number on the dial pad for calls. For e-mails, alerts would contain a confirmation hyperlink.
Missouri University of Science and Technology performed a campus-wide test of the system Sept. 4 at 12:05 p.m. It took 43 minutes for the system to notify all registered cell phone and text message numbers, systems security analyst at Missouri S&T Karl Lutzen said in an e-mail.
"Fortunately, no real problems occurred when the EMNS was activated," Lutzen said. "We had some errors with incorrect data where participants either had incomplete data or they entered their number incorrectly, but it is a very small percentage of the total participants."
The University of Southern California experienced unexpected problems with their emergency notification system Sept. 18 when it was activated after an on-campus stabbing. Many students who had registered their cell phone or texting information said they never received a message from the system.
Some officials at USC believed this might have been because cellular networks couldn't handle the volume of high traffic and some cellular services filtered out the mass text messages as spam.
However, MU Information Technology Director Terry Robb said the University doesn't anticipate having the same problems.
"According to our vendor, 3N, 3N is a registered SMS 'content provider,' which means that large numbers of messages can be sent without worrying about being flagged as spam,'" Robb said.
Talks of an EMNS test on MU's campus are ongoing.
"We anticipate the campus-wide test to occur in late October or early November," project specialist Chad Pfister said. "We are still working out the details in regards to what types of tests will we conduct leading up to the campus-wide test, as well as our marketing and PR plan to make the campus community aware of the test."