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Virginia Tech Expands Emergency Notification

Virginia Tech this week reported that it's expanding its emergency notification system "significantly," launching the new VT Alerts system July 2. The campus has also announced the appointment of John Beach as interim director of emergency management effective immediately.

New VT Alerts To Be Fully Functional by Aug. 20
On the emergency notification front, VT has has come to an agreement with National Notification Network (3n) for an expansion of its communications capabilities "that will significantly expand the university's ability to send critical news and information to the university community during campus emergencies," according to a report on the university's website.

The 3n technologies, along with other communications tools, will become part of the new VT Alerts system, which will become available to staff and students, who can sign up for various alert options, beginning July 2. It's expected to be fully functional by Aug. 20.

According to a release issued by Virginia Tech, "3n's technology will enable the university to send messages to students, faculty, and staff using methods and media not maintained by the university, such as text messages to personal cell phones, instant messages via systems maintained by America Online (AOL), Yahoo, or MSN, and phone calls and e-mails to numbers and mailboxes that reside outside the university's network." Subscribers will also be able to create contact lists in the system's preferences.

"We began the process of adding to and enhancing our already robust emergency notification system last fall, and we were in the final stages of selecting a vendor when the tragic events of April 16 occurred," said Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations, in a prepared statement. "The 3n InstaCom Campus Alert system is a sophisticated tool that is easy to use. I believe it can only further benefit our students, faculty, and staff."

The campus also offers emergency communications via its website, a phone alert system, and e-mail alerts. An emergency hotline is also available.

New Interim Emergency Management Director
In addition to implementing a new emergency alert system, VT has also announced the appointment of John Beach, VT's director of physical plant operations, as interim director of emergency management. The appointment is effective immediately.

According to the university, "Prior to April 16, Virginia Tech was in the process of conducting a search of a director of emergency management," said Virginia Tech Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer James A. Hyatt, who made the announcement Wednesday. "This search will continue and a permanent director is expected to be named in the early fall. Until that time, Beach will serve as the interim director of emergency management and will also continue to serve as the director of physical plant, a role he performs in an extraordinary capacity."

In the interim, Beach will be responsible for "the coordination and management of all emergency response activities, including development, implementation, and review of emergency action plans, procedures and training. Duties and responsibilities include all emergency preparedness activities, including development and implementation of a university-wide program; the development of the Campus Emergency Action Plan; and the development of the university’s Continuity of Operations Plan."

Beach has been at Virginia Tech since 1988 and has served in various capacities in emergency response and management. (See VT's website for more details.)

Coinciding with Beach's appointment, Virginia Tech is also reorganizing the reporting structure of the Virginia Tech Police Department from the vice president for administrative services to the executive vice president and chief operating officer, according to a statement from the university.

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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