New broadcast messaging service at Wayne State University ensures timely alerts to students, faculty, staff in emergency situationsAugust 10, 2007
To expedite notification of students, faculty and staff in event of a campuswide emergency or other important matters, Wayne State University has launched a broadcast messaging service that enables cell phone users who are registered for the service to receive text messages. Students, faculty and staff also can choose to receive university messages by WSU e-mail or instant message (IM).
“Today’s technologies provide a means for us to communicate almost instantly with members of our campus community, and we felt it was important to put that capability to use,” said Wayne State President Irvin D. Reid. “We wanted to be able to provide important information quickly and accurately, especially in emergency situations. In our increasingly mobile and electronically oriented society, broadcast text messaging and instant messaging are particularly effective tools for this kind of communication.”
Historically, Wayne State’s emergency notification procedures have included e-mail, a hotline, radio/TV news alerts and the university’s Web site. Broadcast text messaging augments these procedures by providing quick and convenient notification. Emergency alerts reach their intended recipients almost instantly, as most cell phone users carry their phones with them.
Wayne State does not charge a fee to register a mobile phone number or to send text messages through its Broadcast Messaging Service. However, per-message fees from cellular service providers may apply.
As an added convenience, cell phone registrants can pause delivery of non-emergency WSU text messages to their cell phones during a specific time of day. Non-emergency messages are not sent to students and faculty during class hours.
Planned upgrades to Wayne State's new broadcast messaging service over the next year will add different types of messages, such as course announce¬ments, WSU news, notices to faculty and staff by building, or promotional offerings. As each message type is added, students, faculty and staff will be able to choose whether to receive them and how (by cell phone, IM or e-mail).
The university’s Computing and Information Technology Division continues to explore ways to improve university-wide communications using mobile technologies, according to Joseph Sawasky, associate vice president for computing and information technology and chief information officer. “We recognize the need to address students’ evolving communication preferences,” he said. “With the recent tragedy in Virginia, we placed a real priority on this new and innovative emergency broadcast messaging service.
“Wayne State University views students, faculty and staff as an extended family,” he added. “We endeavor to stay connected and to keep the university community informed using the best and latest technology available to us.”
The emergency messaging capability will be tested Aug. 24 during a simulated gunman-in-a-building exercise planned by the WSU Public Safety Department. An emergency text message will be sent to a prearranged sampling of individuals who have signed up for the service.
Wayne State University is a premier institution of higher education offering more than 350 academic programs through 11 schools and colleges to more than 33,000 students.
Contact: Mary Jean Fitzgibbons