OCCC to launch new emergency message system

July 23, 2010 Latest Print Print
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If a gunman is loose on campus this fall or if a fire consumes the Biology Lab, students and employees won’t have to turn on the news to find out the latest.

Instead, they will get an instant text message, e-mail and a Facebook wall post — if they sign up for the new OCCC alert notification feature to be unveiled by August.

The software, produced by the company Regroup, will allow OCCC to instantaneously communicate with students and employees via several different mediums, said John Richardson, Online Marketing coordinator.

“This is a very good solution,” Richardson said. “It delivers a consistent message in a timely manner.”

He said the software was purchased after a Feb. 26 gunman gaffe on campus, but was finalized after years of discussion and collaboration between Marketing and Public Relations, Information Technology, and Safety and Security.

The new feature will cut down on some of the confusion that often happens during emergencies, Richardson said.

He said officials will be able to provide a consistent message to students and employees.

Richardson said the ultimate goal of the system is to provide pertinent information in a timely manner to the campus community that notifies them of emergencies and closures.

The system was tested on student volunteers during last week’s simulated bomb threat, he said.

In the test, Richardson said, the system was used to send out two text messages and a total of five e-mails to the volunteers, helping the college tweak the system so it would behave exactly as the college wants it to.

“I thought the testing went really well,” he said.

When the system debuts, notifications will be sent to OCCC e-mail accounts, Richardson said.

He said the e-mail will explain the system, as well as allow everyone the opportunity to sign up for text-message alerts.

There will be no subscription fee for the alerts, Richardson said.

He said the system has capabilities to work in any situation, even a campus-wide power outage.

“The system that sends out the text alerts and e-mails actually resides off site, so the primary challenge would be connecting to the system without electricity on campus,” Richardson said.

“Our plan is to utilize either a cell phone or iPad for access — both of which will run on batteries.

“Should the college’s wireless network be down, too, we would get online via the devices’ 3G networks,” he said.

Darren Rogers, sophomore student, said he sees the new system as a means of saving time and money.

Rogers, who lives in Norman, said text messages about closures or campus lockdowns would save him time and money by eliminating unnecessary drives to the campus.

“The idea of receiving a text, which I will check, lets me breath a sigh of relief,” he said.

“I am guilty of not checking my student e-mail as often as I should,” Rogers said.

“[The new system] would save me a lot of headaches.”

To contact Thomas Herndon, email onlineeditor@occc.edu.

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