SHSU improves KatSafe emergency notification system by switching to Alertus
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 01:09
The Nerf Gunman Incident of 2010 raised a near panic among the students and faculty of Sam Houston State University as they saw firsthand the flaws that appeared in the university’s emergency notification. Two years later, that episode is helping to build a stronger, more reliable Emergency Safety System for the campus with improvements to the KatSafe system.
The newest improvement is the Alertus program, according to Julia May, associate director of communication and public information officer. Alertus is a computer program designed to send an emergency notification pop-up to every computer on campus if there is a crisis.
Its purpose is to alert the people in buildings to the emergency who are unable to hear the outdoor broadcast system, and give them instructions for what actions they are to take next.
Charles Sturrock, director of environmental health, safety, and risk management and emergency management coordinator said he is confident the new system will enable the campus to be more aware in case of an emergency.
May said that they used the Nerf Gunman situation as an opportunity to reevaluate campus safety and taken steps to improve communication to prevent a repeat incident. May feels comfortable about the safety situation now, but is constantly looking for improvement.
Sturrock showed concern that most students’ information is not up to date, and urged that they change their contact details as soon as possible "because safety is also the responsibility of the student."
"We have the tools and we use them, but it’s a two-way thing." Sturrock said. "Students need to be listening, monitoring Today at Sam, and liking the SHSU Facebook page. The better informed our students are, the safer our campus is."
May and Sturrock detailed the other programs that make up the "package-type" security system.
The public address system has been updated and now includes 12 sirens around campus with more to be added later. The Department of Public Safety has taken many steps recently to bring social media in as a communication tool. Both Twitter and Facebook will send out notifications through university pages that are registered with the SHSU Social University and all university official pages. The KatSafe system allows university member to choose an email, text or voice notification in the event of an emergency situation.