Testing Patience

“TEST. TEST. TEST. This is a test of the University of Miami Emergency Notification Network. Take NO action…”

The above is an excerpt from a text message that was supposed to be sent to the 98 percent of the student body who have registered their cell phone numbers at MyUM as the university tested its Emergency Notification Network system on Thursday afternoon.

Luckily for us students, the exercises performed on Thursday were only tests. If a real emergency had taken place, and immediate action had needed to take place, students might have responded too late, or not at all.

According to student feedback on The Miami Hurricane’s Web site, some students received the text at 12:15 p.m. while others received it hours later or not at all. In the case of a real emergency, this type outcome is not acceptable.

Students also seemed unphazed as the university tested its emergency alarm blast, meant to signify that an incident has occurred on campus. Despite e-mails and notification fliers posted by the university, many students mistook the alarm for the outdoor emergency notification blast, claiming that they thought it was just a lightning notification.

Although the ENN tests did not run perfectly, we must keep in mind that this is the first time that the university has conducted the notifications campus-wide using the new outdoor notification and text messaging system.

Factors such as area codes and cell phone carriers might have precluded a synchronized sending of text messages. As for the emergency alarm blast, a sound bite of the alarm was posted online and linked in e-mails sent to the university community.

Of course the best way to learn is by trial and error, so now that the university knows where problems arose, they may easily be fixed. Hopefully running more tests in the future will help solve student apathy and allow systems to run more smoothly. And in case of a real emergency, hopefully we will all get our notifications, and then take SOME action.