Delaware State Implements Honeywell Notification System

Delaware State University in Dover will use the Honeywell Instant Alert Plus notification service to help communicate with students, faculty, and staff in an emergency. The university previously relied on e-mail, fliers, and door-to-door outreach to circulate information. With the new system, the school will be able to reach people both on and off campus via phone, cell phone, pager, e-mail, or PDA. In a statement, Honeywell said the service can send up to 175,000 30-second phone calls and 125,000 text messages in 15 minutes.

"Instant Alert Plus will help us get important information to more people in less time," said James Overton, chief of police at DSU, which experienced a campus shooting in September 2007. "We never want to go through that type of event again, but if a major emergency arises we are prepared and have the ability to get the word out quickly."

The service also allows DSU to integrate information from its current student and employee databases during set up. As a result, the university is able to leverage existing contact details instead of having to manually enter data or encouraging students and staff to sign up for the service and enter their information. Students, faculty, and staff will be able to update their contact details and add new devices through the DSU Web site.

To activate an alert, administrators place a phone call or type a message on an Internet-connected computer. Instant Alert Plus uses a series of distributed, redundant call center networks to distribute the information.

Along with broadcasting news, DSU can create lists and alerts for specific groups, such as residents of a specific dorm or emergency responders. This gives school officials the ability to quickly send messages to contacts who may be in immediate danger or to responders regarding the location of an emergency.

The system includes a polling feature to solicit feedback from the campus community, as well as the ability to automatically bridge message recipients into a conference call, which is useful when administrators are off campus and decisions need to be made immediately. The service also includes real-time, Web-based reports that show who has and hasn't received a particular alert.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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