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Archive for Friday, May 25, 2007

KU offering emergency alert system

May 25, 2007

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Shortly after the program was announced, 3,200 people signed up for Kansas University's new text message emergency alert system.

And it's not even operational yet. In a May e-mail to 30,000 KU students, staff and faculty members, the university encouraged members of its community to provide the university with their cell phone number and service provider in order to receive emergency alerts.

"We had been planning to work on text messaging, and then all of the sudden Virginia Tech happened," said Marlesa Roney, vice provost for student success. "We weren't really that far along."

The Office of Student Success has been overseeing the project, which has been implemented quickly, according to a programmer on the project.

"This project was important enough to the people that make those decisions to say here, 'you have a short period of time to make it happen,'" said Jonathan Glauner, a programmer with KU's Information Technology office.

Roney said the program would be in place by the end of the semester.

Roney and her staff have long grappled with not having accurate emergency contact information for students. In addition to providing cell phone numbers, the interface also prompts people to update emergency contacts and other information.

"We really try to have key messages that are repeated at different points," she said. "We want to emphasize the importance of providing emergency contact information and that it is important it is accurate."

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