Warn ’em fast

On a campus full of technologically hip college students, communication seems relatively straightforward — until it is attempted.This was the case for the Castleton Crisis Response Committee who deemed it necessary for the college to have the ability to send a message to everyone in the college community rapidly and effectively through different mediums.

“In this day, the hardest thing is to communicate because everyone has a different device to communicate to,” Dean of Students Greg Stone said.

The committee found problems with many conventional communication methods: email accounts frequently go unchecked, voice mail accounts are not always set up and not everyone owns a cell phone, according to Stone. The committee decided on a system, provided by the company Send Word Now, which had the ability to communicate with different devices in a matter of seconds.

The school can now send messages to school voicemail and e-mail as well as the phone numbers been used to register cars, but that currently takes up to 10 minutes, according to Public Safety Director Bob Godlewski.

In the case of an emergency, the new system will be able to send information and instructions to all campus e-mail and voice mail accounts as well as to any other personal devices community members personally submit like cell phones or blackberries.

The system will be tested at least once a year in order to make sure it works the way that is envisioned.

“We hope only to use it when we test it,” Stone said.

The system would be utilized in any situations that threaten the security of the campus or drastically change its appearance, according to Stone. Situations where the system would be used include major snow or ice storms, fires, and events similar to the Virginia Tech Massacre earlier this year.

“It is meant for the worst of the worst, when we need everyone to know what to do,” Stone said.

Although not yet ready for use, IT officials were trained on Sept. 10 to go about getting passwords to community members, whom the committee hopes will then be able to add their personal devices to the system in a few weeks and for it to be fully operational after October break, according to Dean of Administration Bill Allen.

In any event in which the system is used, a loud tone will be broadcast across the campus alerting everyone to check their email, voice mail or any other device they have added.

The system is run completely offsite so even in the case of a situation when the campus was without power, the information would still be sent to any devices still operating, according to Stone.

The committee feels secure that everyone who does not immediately receive the alert could easily obtain the information from someone nearby who did.

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