Snow day was a chance to test new warning system
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 08:02
Andrew Evans, eagerly awaiting the news of a snow day on Thursday, couldn’t contain his excitement when he received a text from UNO on Wednesday night. Reading that all activities and classes scheduled on campus on Feb. 21 had been cancelled, the text message signaled a day of winter weather, safety from less than favorable road conditions and refuge from his 7 a.m. English class.
UNO’s emergency text messaging system, which sends instant alerts directly to registered subscribers’ e-mail accounts and mobile devices via text message, sent phones abuzz Wednesday night when users were alerted of a snow day for Thursday. Hundreds of subscribed students like Evans are now the first to know of any UNO related emergencies due to the system and the number of subscribers increasing as telecommunication implements a new plan to increase membership to the system.
“This project has been in the works for some time,” said Stanley Schleifer, director of UNO Support Services. “It was pursued to get more of the UNO community to take advantage of the emergency text messaging system.”
The system—which is used to communicate potentials emergencies such as closings or delays, weather warnings, Homeland Security advisories, gas leak notifications and fire or crime watches — has been intact for several years already but has received in uptick in users due in part to telecommunications promoting it more through such venues as enotes, a portion of UNO’s website that is regularly updated with news for the campus.
Students register for the system online through the emergency page on UNO’s website by entering their mobile device and using their NetID number for identification. The registration process has recently been simplified to increase the number of subscribers.
“It’s really easy to sign up for the alerts, so I don’t know why students wouldn’t do it,” Evans said. “I signed up because it alerts me right away if UNO is closed because of a snow storm. I don’t have to constantly be refreshing UNO’s website to receive the news of a closing or be watching the news. Instead I’ll have the alert on my phone.”
Since the system requires individuals to subscribe, it is a voluntary opt-in, which contradicts the usual action plan taken by universities that automatically notify their community when an emergency or cancellation occurs.
“It would be kind of convenient to receive maybe just an automatic email from the university that tells students if school is closed instead of having to sign-up to receive the alerts because most students probably have never even heard of the system,” Evans said.