November, 2010Text messaging has become a primary form of communication for many and Texas State University-San Marcos is launching an emergency alert system capable of implementing that technology to quickly reach the cell phones of faculty, staff and students.
The system is intended to improve the speed and efficiency of reaching people in an age where emails can sometimes get lost in the clutter of an inbox and a cell phone is often a person’s most-used method of communication. The goal is to quickly reach the public through their primary phone.
"We’re in an immediate information age. To many people today their phone is as important to them as their keys or their wallet. Yes, people do read emails, but to many, the text is more important," said Robert Campbell, sergeant, special projects, University Police Department. "This will be used in any type of emergency that would require us to notify the public on an immediate basis."
Campbell emphasized that the system was developed to reach the campus community with respect to immediate dangers and safety threats in emergency situations, not for general contacts or advertising. People using the system will be able to confirm the message’s legitimacy by its five-digit number which will also include “TXSTATE ALERT” in the announcement. Messages will also be sent out through the emergency sign board system in campus buildings and classrooms as well as through email via the address firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We’re not going to be sending out messages to people if they have a parking ticket due. This is only for immediate emergencies," Campbell said.
Texas State partnered with RAVE Mobile Safety to provide the RAVEAlert service. Students, faculty and staff will soon receive an email from email@example.com with a link to sign up for the service. Individuals will be prompted to sign into the system using their Texas State identification and password. Individuals will only be able to sign up for their own phone and service.
Campbell further emphasized that the project’s first and foremost goal is the safety of the campus community and that the project’s success depends on the participation of everyone.
"We can’t accomplish this task without the community," he said. "With all of us working together, we can protect it."The service is provided to faculty, staff and students by the university free of charge. Individual text messaging rates for various phone plans may apply. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.