Aug. 28, 2007
UI implements Hawk Alert emergency notification system
University of Iowa administrators will soon be able to send emergency voice and text messages to students, faculty and staff within minutes, thanks to a new emergency notification system, called "Hawk Alert." University administrators are urging all students, staff and faculty to add or update their cell and other phone numbers in the university's database as soon as possible.
The first phase of the Hawk Alert System will include voice calls and e-mail, and will be implemented by Sept. 1. By Nov. 1, the second phase will add text messages for those with text messaging capabilities, such as text-message-enabled cell phones.
"The recent bomb scare on the UI Pentacrest illustrates the need for such a notification system," says Steve Parrott, UI spokesperson.
"Even though we had a mass e-mail prepared within a few minutes of learning that there might be bombs on campus, it took too long for the e-mails to be delivered, and many people are away from their e-mail for extended periods. This new system promises to send messages within minutes to thousands of phones and text-message devices at once," Parrott says.
"The new service gives the university the ability to contact students, faculty and staff in the event of an emergency, using a variety of methods," Parrott says. "Once students and employees add or update their cell and other phone numbers, they can rest assured that we will do our best to contact them at the numbers provided if there is an emergency situation."
"Except for testing, our intention is to use the Hawk Alert System only in the event of an emergency," Parrott says, "and personal cell phone numbers provided specifically for the emergency system will not be used for other purposes, nor will they be listed in any public directories." Detailed instructions on how to provide emergency numbers are available at http://hawkalert.uiowa.edu.
The service being used by the Hawk Alert system is Connect-ED®, developed by The NTI Group, Inc., of Sherman Oaks, California specifically for schools, colleges and universities.
"The University is also investing in a series of notification towers equipped with sirens and voice alert systems that also will help ensure that those on campus hear alerts and warnings," Parrott says. "We hope to have these towers up and working in the next few months."
"A test call will be made in early September to ensure that each individual successfully receives the message. Test calls will be made as infrequently as possible," Parrott says. "We don't want anything, especially annoyance with unwanted calls, to prevent people from providing their numbers for this important function."
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500