Text Messaging Featured Article
Omnilert's uTip Issues Campus Alerts via Text Message for Emergencies
Campus emergencies can occur at anytime, but with a little help from technology in the form of campus alerts, administrators can help avoid disasters like the ones previously seen at Virginia Tech, Kent State, University of Texas and Lone Star College.
John A. Logan College is one of many schools taking the safety of students seriously. It recently implemented a service from Omnilert called uTip and is planning on offering it free to students to help them handle everyday situations.
When things suddenly go wrong in schools, there needs to be a simple way to contact authorities and send information they can act on. uTip allows anyone in the community to alert school officials, security and others simply by sending an SMS text message from a standard cell phone. It is easy to implement and doesn’t require any software or apps to work.
To get a feel of how effective uTip was during emergencies, authorities put it to use during a mock shooter drill. When the school unexpectedly started receiving tips from the campus community, mass alerts were sent out to the entire campus.
“It was scary watching this stream of text alerts come in and know where all the shooters were. At one point, I was hiding under my desk and was able to stay informed because I was getting the tips as text messages on my own phone. Others on our emergency response team were getting the tips on their own phones,” noted said Terry Crain, dean for student services at John A. Logan College.
Although it was eerie to receive an accurate real-time location of the mock shooters, at least everyone knew where they stood with reference to the shooters at any point of time. After the incident, this unexpected lifeline provided a report with a timeline of the events as they unfolded.
"We wanted students to feel they are in a safe environment, and if something ever did happen, then they have a very simple way to contact us and send us anonymous information that we could then act on,” observed Crain.
The uTip service was originally not part of the school’s planned exercise, but seeing its efficacy, the school has decided to include it in future emergency preparedness planning as it is considered as a good, affordable investment that brings peace of mind to everyone on the campus.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey