Alerting Parents in a School Emergency

By Joe Dysart

More than two-thirds of campus environments -- including K-12 schools, higher education, and hospital campuses -- will install or upgrade emergency alert systems during the academic year, according to a Campus Safety Magazine (www.campussafetymagazine.com) survey.

The 57-page study also found that despite significantly heightened concern about campus safety, actual sign-ups for one of the most popular alert mediums -- emergency text alert systems -- are dangerously low.

Even so, in a nod to the widespread use of mobile phones and other PDAs by students, a majority of campuses, 57 percent, still maintain that text messaging is their notification method of choice, and that they’ll be installing or upgrading those kinds of systems in 2008-2009.

Meanwhile, another 39 percent plan to upgrade or install new loudspeakers. And 27 percent will be installing digital signs to warn students of imminent danger.

Campuses who have gotten students to sign up for text messaging alerts say appeals via e-mail work best. About 70 percent of campuses promote their systems this way. Others say they’re able to get students to sign on during new student orientations and on school websites.

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