BU Alert Test Today
An inconvenience for some, but necessary for safety
A test of the BU Alert System occurs today, October 12, at 11:50 a.m. The U.S. Department of Education requires that the system be tested annually. The test will be sent to all students, faculty, and staff who have registered their information through the Student or Employee Links.
The BU Alert System is the University’s first-line warning system, used in circumstances where the BU community is at risk.
The emergency notification system works through Send Word Now updates, which are distributed through text messages, phone calls, emails, and updates to BU websites. These updates are critical to the Boston University Police Department’s operations, according to BUPD Chief Thomas Robbins. “They’re able to almost instantly tell students, faculty, and staff about something that could cause harm,” he says. “It’s key.”
The test will evaluate all modes of the emergency alert system—text messages, email, web page banners (seen on bu.edu, BU Today, and the BU Emergency Management website), and voice mail. The Incident Command Team will also run a drill and report to the ICS Bunker, at 25 Buick Street.
The Send Word Now system was implemented in 2008. Since then, 15 campus alerts (including 4 tests) have been sent out, Robbins says. The alerts included warnings about robberies, a suspected ammunition clip spotted in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and a blackout that trapped students in Warren Tower elevators. The BUPD has 50 state-trained and deputized officers with advanced training in disaster scenarios.
Only 27 percent of faculty and staff have registered their mobile phone numbers with the BU Alert System, according to Peter Fiedler (COM’77), vice president for administrative services. Those faculty and staff members who have not registered their phone number with the University should do so as soon as possible, via the Employee Link, under Personal. “We’d like to impress upon people that in order for this system to be effective, it needs to have everyone’s commitment,” Fiedler says.
Students are required to register their mobile phone numbers with the BU Alert System, or they are not permitted to register for classes. Students may update their contact information on the Student Link.
Those who have provided their mobile phone numbers and do not receive test messages today are asked to email email@example.com with the message “Failed to receive SWN alert.”
Some say the alerts are bothersome and that they ignore the warnings, which could be dangerous if there were a true emergency. Fiedler stresses that the University is required to deliver these timely warnings if there is any question of danger, for everyone’s safety.
“We need to communicate with people rapidly, and they need to know about how to protect their personal safety and those around them,” Fiedler says. “It’s a wake-up call that you have to be vigilant all the time. Personal safety is something that we’re all aware of. We’re not doing it to hassle people or water down the system. We have the system, we’re mandated to do it, and we want to tell people so they’re more proactive about preventing future crimes and incidents from occurring on campus.”
Amy Laskowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments