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17 September 2009

Emergency Notification Network to be tested

Be prepared to receive numerous test alerts at some point throughout the week of Sept. 21.

The University of Miami is conducting a more ambitious full-scale test of its Emergency Notification Network (ENN) that involves an undisclosed exact activation date and time between Monday, Sept. 21 and Friday, Sept. 25.

“The theory behind emergency notification is that by immediately informing the university community of a serious present threat and how to respond to it, community members will be able to better protect themselves,” John Pepper, UM police officer, said.

The university implemented the ENN in 2007 in response to tragic events at several colleges and high schools and in the case of an emergency.

It allows the university to quickly disseminate an urgent message through multiple communication mediums including voice messages, text messages, e-mail and outdoor emergency notification sirens.

Since the first test in Oct. 2007, most students feel the system has improved and the alerts are an effective means of communicating with the student population during an emergency.

“I think it’s a great system. At first I thought it was annoying but then I had a friend that went to Virginia Tech and after hearing her story, she said that the emergency alert system was key at her school in keeping people safe,” Andrea Shank, a senior, said.

In addition, the ENN system is crucial at UM for hurricane notification and preparedness.

Although some students commented last year that they found the siren sounds on campus to be ineffective because they are activated so frequently anyway due to storms.

“I feel like if the sirens go off to alert us of an emergency, I would just ignore them because they go off for every little thunderstorm anyways,” Priscilla Razak, a sophomore, said.

Despite a few faults, the system does an effective job of notifying the students and faculty of an emergency.

Last year, approximately 98% of the participants received at least one alert within the first 15 minutes and this year, the university hopes to continue to improve upon that by sending the messages at a faster rate.

“I’m very content overall with the whole system…and I definitely think getting the text message is the best way because in an emergency, my phone is the quickest thing I have access to,” Shank said.

To sign up to be notified by ENN, log in to myUM. ENN messages will be sent to everyone who has registered personal contact information on myUM.