Henderson State Tries To Knock Out Alert System
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, AR recently tried out its new Rave Alert system with a test designed to overtax its network and slow down or interfere with alerts getting through. At 1 p.m. on April 16, in remembrance of the Virginia Tech killings, university students, faculty, and staff were all asked to make outgoing phone calls from their cell phones. Simultaneously, university administrators issued a Rave Alert test to determine how well the system would work even when cell phones were at the peak of usage.
The university considers the test a success with 98 percent of more than 3,000 text messages delivered within 10 seconds. The notification system, supplied by Rave Wireless, allows Henderson to send emergency notifications to subscribers via mobile text alerts, e-mail, and recorded voice messages.
"I am very pleased with the results of the test," said Charles Welch, president of Henderson. "We now have the capability to distribute emergency messages in a matter of seconds. Every second counts in life-threatening situations and we believe this system will greatly enhance the safety of our campus community."
The delivery of e-mails and voice messages was also -successful. The system delivered e-mail messages to 3,460 (91 percent) of addresses provided. All voice messages were sent within four minutes. Eighty-two percent were delivered in two minutes or less, and almost all were delivered in three minutes.
"University students today are living a mobile lifestyle unique to this generation," said Welch. "Rave Alert will enable us to send emergency communications to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, regardless of where everyone is at the time."
The system can distribute an alert to the entire campus community in the case of an emergency, or on a targeted basis such as to students in specific residence halls or enrolled in specific courses.
Rave Alert is being added to the other methods of emergency communication, according to Welch. "We will continue to alert faculty, staff and students of campus emergencies by the methods we currently have, including the campus website, digital displays, and television and radio," he said. "Our hope is to never have to use Rave Alert because of a serious campus emergency, but we will be prepared in case the need arises."
Henderson paid a one-time fee of $3,600 for set-up of Rave Alert and pays an annual fee of $11,000, according to a broadcast news account of the test.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.