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Notification Systems and School Safety
As campuses nationwide openup their classrooms for the new school year, MIR3, Inc., an innovator of real-time Intelligent Notification™ and response technology, is urging school administrators to review their current campus alerting plans to keep students and staff safe and operations running smoothly in case of disaster.
Last year the FBI, Secret Service and U.S Department of Education released a study titled “Campus Attacks,” examining violent attacks at college campuses in the past century. The study found that incidents have risen dramatically in the past 20 years, with nearly 30 percent of the total number of reported cases occurring since 2000.
Since the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, schools nationwide have embraced mass notification to quickly communicate to campus populations in times of crisis. Mass notification is the fastest and most efficient way to deliver an important message when danger threatens, but it can also be used in a variety of situations. Many colleges and universities rely on mass notification for streamlined, day-to-day communications with students, faculty, staff and visitors—sending out alerts related to snow days, open registration, school events and looming deadlines.
MIR3 offers the following tips on using notification in a college or university campus environment:
1. Class or building closings—When storms hit, use notification to alert of canceled classes or building closures caused by unsafe weather conditions, flooded parking lots or power outages. Deliver alerts to students, staff and faculty on their preferred modality—Short Message Service (SMS), email, fax, mobile phone, etc.—no matter where they are, and direct them to alternative sites.
2. On-campus and off-campus alerts—When students become the target of thieves, or are at risk of assault, use notification to alert and deploy security teams to unsafe areas of campus. Whether on campus or off, send students precautionary safety tips on traveling in pairs, and if there is a suspicious character on the loose, notify everyone on campus to be on the lookout.
3. Unplanned staffing changes—Use notification to put out the call for qualified alternates to step in when teachers are unable to make it to class. Using databases, target a message to staff with the proper credentials. A two-way notification system enables a teacher to respond immediately and to discuss the details in real-time via a call bridge.
4. Faculty and student updates—When administrators need to get an important message to faculty quickly, but find them difficult to track down on a busy campus, use notification to alert them no matter where they are. Train teachers to use the system so they can reach students directly, alerting them if a class venue has changed, reminding them of approaching or shifting deadlines, special events or a change in office hours.
5. Security team management—Notification is a great tool for ensuring campus safety and communicating directly to campus security about impending threats and potential incidents, requesting a quick location response from each guard to help better manage a situation. Also, notification is critical when the goal is to avoid broadcasting a message over a loud speaker.
6. Health warnings—Notify students and faculty when there is an epidemic on campus, alerting them about a risk, directing them to resources and health centers, describing warning signs and explaining which symptoms need immediate attention.
7. IT uptime—Notification can also be used to streamline IT operations by quickly alerting the appropriate IT personnel when systems lag or fail, keeping students, faculty, and administrators’ systems up and running and providing access to electronic school records and online education available at all times.
8. Polling—Deliver quick one- or two-question survey questions, with an immediate response requested, to give students and faculty a voice on issues. Use notification to gain valuable data to help with prompt decision-making.
9. Event announcements—From commencement details to registration deadlines, use notification to remind students and parents of special events. This not only helps increase attendance, but also eliminates miscommunication about scheduled times and locations.
10. Campus evacuations—Use notification to alert students, staff and faculty of dangerous situations like bomb threats or chemical spills. Direct them to avoid the area of impact while notifying police and emergency responders. In the immediate aftermath of a crisis, use an alert with a response required to determine if students are safe or need help.
MIR3, Inc. is a leading developer of Intelligent Notification™ and response software, which helps organizations enhance communication abilities, protect assets, and increase operational efficiency. For more information, visit www.mir3.com.