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April 18, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

AlertBG switches to opt-out system

AlertBG will be able to reach 24,000 more people as it switches to an opt-out system this semester.

AlertBG is a messaging system sent out through email, text and social media to notify the campus community of emergencies in the area.

First used in 2007 through an opt-in system, requiring people to sign up for the service, the decision to switch stemmed from low registration, said John Ellinger, chief information officer for Information Technology Service at the University.

When an altercation occurred in the parking lot of a residence hall and only 4,800 people were alerted, Ellinger knew it was time to change the system.

“Most [people notified] were faculty and staff; not many students had been alerted,” Ellinger said.

After AlertBG made the switch this semester, Ellinger said they had 28,500 numbers from students, faculty and staff.

Since it is an opt-out system now, anyone who has their cell phone number listed with the University will automatically be signed up to receive the text alert, Ellenger said.

“Given what we had to work with, [the switch] was probably a good thing with the campus being closed [last week],” Ellinger said of the timing of the change.

Since the beginning of the academic year, there have been 10 alerts sent out through AlertBG, said Capt. Tim James of the University police. The alerts included the severe weather closing the University last week, a tornado warning and a gas leak.

The campus police are the ones who send out both AlertBG messages and crime alerts, James said.

The ability to send text alerts makes the system one of the most effective means of communication for the University, he said.

“It’s one of the most useful tools we have at our disposal to get a message out to as many people as possible … when an emergency is going on,” James said.

Sophomore Nick Hauck is one of the AlertBG users who has benefited from its service.

Had it not been for a text message alert, he wouldn’t have known about the tornado warning last semester. Fortunately, he was already in a basement hanging with his fraternity brothers, Hauck said.

“It’s useful because it’s automatic information sent to us that we might not know about, like that tornado,” he said.

The cost to switch to an opt-out system for Alert BG was a jump from $12,000 to $19,000, Ellinger said. It’s being paid for through its budget and will not affect tuition, he said.

To opt-in or opt-out of AlertBG, students, faculty and staff need to update their cell phone numbers or turn off the alert function through MyBGSU or through Human Resources.

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