New service to alert students of campus emergencies via text

Cassie Buchman , News Editor

Eastern recently purchased a new service that allows students to receive text messages alerting them of emergencies on campus.

The service, AlertEIU, will send messages to subscribers that are less than 160 characters long if there are possible threats on Eastern’s main campus.

Josh Awalt, interim assistant director of information security, said that now, instead of broadcasting the emergency situation over speakers, students would be alerted to the problem via an email or text message.

Students can put two different cell phone numbers, such as those of their parents, in the system when they register.

To register, students click on a link in the email and will be brought to a page where they can create the account.

The university purchased the service in July and started sending registration emails out at the beginning of the year.

Previously, Eastern used four different systems to send notifications to people. One sent out a notification to classrooms, one sent out text messages, one sent out emails, and one intercom tested the sirens.

Awalt said that AlertEIU streamlines these systems and “band-aids” them together.

“This takes all four pieces and puts it into one system, so we can press one button and effectively communicate what’s happening to the campus,” Awalt said.

There have not been any notifications sent out so far, but the people using and setting up AlertEIU said the program has simplified the process.

Students should use their full Eastern email address when signing up for the service.

Awalt said this system would contribute to keeping the campus safer, as more students will be aware of emergency situations.

“If there ever is an emergency on campus, in a classroom setting, if two or three people register, it increases the chances (others in the class will) be notified in that class session,” he said.

Not many people check their email, Awalt added, so the cell phone notifications were a better avenue to use.

“I’ll check texts before email,” he said. “I think everyone’s going to be a little different in terms of how they want information given to them, especially with a new generation.”

People can register for AlertEIU through an enrollment email through their campus email that provides a link to the AlertEIU member portal. Though students, faculty and staff members will already receive notices to their campus email, they will need to enroll in the system to get phone notices.

Students will receive registration emails for the first two weeks of classes. If they do not register, Awalt said they might receive 10–15 emails asking them to.

“I’m not trying to be annoying; I just want (people) to be aware of emergencies,” he said.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]