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September 21, 2023

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AlertBG puts safety at your fingertips

Starting today, University students, staff and faculty members can sign up for a new text messaging alert system used to spread information across campus.

The system, called AlertBG, will be used in the event of safety and weather emergencies.

After several months of discussion about the system, the University decided to use the company E2Campus for the service, said Bryan Benner, associate vice president of administration and chairman of the committee regarding the system.

“We made the decision [to add the alert service] in July and wanted to do a thorough search for the right company,” he said.

E2Campus is already in place at more than 250 universities including Miami, Syracuse and Penn State universities.

Although the University’s system was inspired by the April shootings at Virginia Tech and recommendations by Gov. Ted Strickland’s Campus Security Task Force, Penn State’s system was in place before the killings, said Steve Abrams, PSU’s university emergency management coordinator.

PSU’s system is used not only for crime and weather alerts, but also for traffic and sports updates, Abrams said.

“The premise was looking at students and what is the fastest way to send [the message] out,” he said.

Getting the service to the University was a joint effort by several campus groups, said Cindy Fuller, communications coordinator for the University’s Information Technology Service.

The University’s system will alert students, faculty and staff of crimes in progress and weather alerts but not scoreboard updates.

Fuller also said this is a voluntary program and that students could opt in and sign up for the alert service with text messages, e-mail alerts, or both. Fuller also noted the University’s snow alert would still be operational at 372-SNOW but would eventually be phased out in favor of the broader 37A-LERT.

University Police Chief Jim Weigand said students will be able to register for the system during registration.

Brenner said the new alert system was part of a broader effort to get notifications to users in the event of an emergency.

The University is also looking to add plasma TVs in several buildings to display emergency information, Benner said.

Although users’ cell phones may require charges for text messaging, no one should hesitate to sign up for the service, Benner said.

The University’s Department of Public Safety is the only agency authorized to send the text messages and each of those messages must be authorized by University president Sidney Ribeau or his designee, Weigand said.

This ensures subscribers will not be bombarded by spam texts or e-mails and the service will only be used for emergencies, Benner said.

By signing up for AlertBG, users are giving the University a more efficient way to reach them in the event of an emergency.

“Anything we can do to get out accurate information is the most important thing,” Benner said.

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