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University aims to strengthen security

See also: Security Overview

In light of the Virginia Tech massacre last April, the university has recently initiated the Emergency Notification Network, a system that sends emergency text messages to students and faculty.

The security system, which will be tested Thursday, cost nearly $100,000 and uses wireless and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.

The text-message notification is an update to the computerized system already in place at the university, which sends emergency e-mails and phone calls to students and faculty.

“One way is OK, two ways is good and three ways is even better,” said Alan Fish, vice president of Business Services. “There’s nothing wrong with redundancy if you have an emergency.”

The university has also updated the lightning blast notification, the siren that sounds during thunderstorms, to include notification for other emergencies such as school shootings.

During Thursday’s drill, all members of the University of Miami community who have registered their cell phone numbers on myUM will receive a text message at 12:15 p.m. The outdoor emergency notification sirens will be tested as well.

“When you hear this you got to know that there’s something going on at UM, and you’ve got to get out of harm’s way,” Fish said.

Currently, 90 percent of students and about 73 percent of faculty have registered their cell phone numbers.

A similar text-messaging system was tested at Virginia Tech last Wednesday when an emergency text was sent to more than 18,000 people (60 percent of the university community) who signed up for the service. The Associated Press reported that hundreds of people said they did not receive a text message, although a university spokesperson said it was unclear whether these people were signed up for the service.

Vice President of Student Affairs Patricia A. Whitely, the UM Police Department and Fish will host a student news conference on Oct. 17 at 10 a.m. to discuss the emergency test.

For more information about the Emergency Notification Network and step-by-step registration directions visit www.miami.edu/prepare. To listen to the Emergency Notification Network siren tone visit TheMiamiHurricane.com.

Karyn Meshbane may be contacted at k.meshbane@umiami.edu.

October 15, 2007

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