Emergency Messages

Discussions of visual designs, content area elements,
interface issues of UNL web templates.

Emergency Messages

Postby dsockrider » Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:18 pm

In light of the shooting in Virginia, has anything been done in regards to having a University wide emergency message system?

I believe all that would have to be done to implement such a system is to have a server side include in the top portion of the template with the content in the include being blank unless there was an emergency. In the event of an emergency, a message could be posted immediately, campus wide.

I brought up this topic March 22, 2006. August 25, 2006 Bob Crisler stated, "That is being worked on now. We expect to have a system implemented in time for snow season. "

...it's now April 2007, has anything been done? Nothing appeared on the Engineering site when we had a snowday.
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Postby saltybeagle » Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:52 pm

This is an excellent issue to bring up --- if you follow the university web developer community, there is a lot of discussion going on today regarding how emergency communication is handled. very timely.

I believe all that would have to be done to implement such a system is to have a server side include in the top portion of the template with the content in the include being blank unless there was an emergency. In the event of an emergency, a message could be posted immediately, campus wide.


...it's now April 2007, has anything been done? Nothing appeared on the Engineering site when we had a snowday.


Yes --- this has been done. Our office has actually built the notification system which polls the emergency alert site http://alert1.unl.edu/ and can display the errors within the template.

The Police have control of posting alerts to the system and have not completed their testing of the system --- so as of yet, we're still waiting for that.

Once the university police are happy with how the system works, I'm all for pushing out the system we have within the UNL templates. --- after going through a testing phase of sorts with it on a minimum number of pages to evaluate the added load on the alert servers.
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Thank you!

Postby dsockrider » Tue Apr 17, 2007 2:11 pm

Thanks, I believe this is an instance of "It's better to have it and not need it rather than to need it and not have it"
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Update from the Scarlet:

Postby dsockrider » Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:13 am

Va.Tech attack ripples across UNL

BY TROY FEDDERSON, UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
In the hours after the April 16 Virginia Tech shootings, members of the UNL Police Department pulled together. Gathering in a UNLPD conference room, campus law enforcement personnel dissected the attacks, compared early details against UNL response plans and filled walls of dry eraser boards with notes and potential procedure changes.

"Our emergency response plans did not come alive because of the incident at Virginia Tech," said Fred Gardy, assistant police chief at UNL. "Our plans were already in place. However, good emergency management plans must evolve and be flexible. You need to use lessons learned in any incident.

"We do not Monday quarterback. We take an event like Virginia Tech, look at it and learn from it so we are better prepared to respond here at UNL."

Four days after the April 16 review, UNL emergency response plans were put into play. A bomb threat was called into Othmer Hall at 12:05 p.m. Campus police responded, evacuating Othmer Hall, Walter Scott Engineering Center and Nebraska Hall, and cordoning off the area to pedestrians and traffic. While the buildings were being searched, two campus-wide e-mails alerting faculty, staff and students to the threat were issued. University Communications helped Lincoln-area media outlets pass on the details to viewers, listeners and Web surfers. And, by a 3 p.m. press conference, the buildings were cleared and open for regular campus use.

"When an incident happens, we don't want people thinking about how they should respond," Gardy said. "We want them to know how they should respond before something happens."

While administrators gather experience through two or three tabletop exercises each year (the last two involved a tornado strike on campus and a hazardous material spill during a Husker football game), Gardy said faculty, staff and students should familiarize themselves with campus response criteria.

One of the best sources of information is a Web site recently developed to provide resources, tips and ideas on how to prepare and react to various emergency events. Common scenarios such as tornadoes, severe winter weather, fires, and chemical-release events, as well as personal safety threats, are addressed. Guidance is given on how to plan for such emergency events and what to do if they occur.

The information can be accessed online at http://emergency.unl.edu.

UNLPD is also encouraging departments and individuals to develop emergency response plans.

Gardy said departments have the option of consulting with UNLPD on the formation of a plan. Individuals should review the information posted online, and create a plan of their own. An important element of an individual response would be to establish a way to contact family members, including identifying a meeting place in case communications are down.

"Don't isolate your plan and concentrate this one unfortunate incident at Virginia Tech," Gardy said. "Review the links online. Take an all-hazards approach to emergency management."

Faculty, staff and students can also help with emergency response by reporting what they see on campus.

"We would never ask you to jeopardize your life," Gardy cautioned. "But, if you see something, contact us immediately. Assess us of the damage; tell us what you see. Be as descriptive as possible and don't hang up.

"At that point, you are the eyes and ears of the police department."

On the flip side, don't call emergency numbers or the university switchboard to find out what is happening on campus.

"Don't ever call for information in the middle of an event," Gardy said. "Get your information from automated services, such as the UNL Web site. Turn on a radio or television. Use the technology available to you and let our human assets work the incident."

The university has a number of communication avenues in place. They include campuswide e-mails; campuswide voice mail; the UNL Today Web page (www.unl.edu); and local media (including the campus radio station 90.3 KRNU).

University Communications and UNLPD are also developing "UNL Alert," a computer application that will alert individuals to campus emergencies (see story on Page 1). Also, the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska have started to discuss the creation of a text messaging system to pass along information.

"There will certainly be people not contacted for any number of reasons," Gardy said. "But, we try to use as many forms of communication as possible to get the message out.

"We're always willing to add something new because, in the end, it's going to be a small investment that will save lives."

While UNLPD can increase campus safety through patrols and respond to incidents, the success of UNL emergency response planning hinges on faculty, staff and students getting involved.

"The UNL Police Department plays a role in safety on campus, but we are only a part of a larger team," Gardy said. "Every faculty member, staff employee and student is a part of that team. It has to be a collaborative effort for it to work."
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'UNL Alert' application will be available for emergency upda

Postby dsockrider » Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:14 am

'UNL Alert' application will be available for emergency updates

BY SARA PIPHER, UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
University Communications and the UNL Police Department are developing a new computer-driven emergency alert system.

"UNL Alert" will be a downloadable computer application that supplies up-to-date information on emergencies affecting faculty, staff and students. The application is being tested, and will be released in May.

The alert, which can be downloaded onto any Macintosh or personal computer, will run in the background of a computer until the university faces an emergency situation. At that point, campus police will activate the alert with pertinent information to keep users current on issues of concern.

The police will utilize a Common Alerting Protocol to update UNL Alert. The CAP will enable them to plug in relevant information, including a geographic location for the alert, the time of the warning's onset and expiration, and a description of what actions to take. Possible scenarios for use include severe weather, fires and other emergencies. The alert will only be used to announce extreme emergencies.

"This is for unexpected emergencies, those emergencies we can't predict or prepare for," said Brett Bieber, interactive media and web developer, and one of the architects of UNL Alert. "The most important thing this does is get immediate information from the police sent out to the campus community."

No other universities use a CAP system, although similar applications are utilized by the National Weather Service and by the Amber Alert operators. University Communications staff said that not only will the UNL Alert be useful to individuals on campus, it can also be downloaded by students' parents, the media and local residents.

The alert will appear as a small "N" logo on a user's computer. If an alert is issued, the application will notify users visually and audibly.

UNL Alert will be available for download online within the next several weeks.
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Removing posts on this board

Postby dsockrider » Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:17 am

I brought up this topic March 22, 2006. August 25, 2006 Bob Crisler stated, "That is being worked on now. We expect to have a system implemented in time for snow season. "


Brett, why did you remove my post from March 22, 2006?
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Postby saltybeagle » Fri Apr 27, 2007 1:29 pm

EDIT: Looks like you accidentally deleted your message, the text was this:
Radio, TV, Text messages, email alerts and posting on the website are all great ways to notify people of an emergency.

I wonder about the effectiveness of having an application running on everyone's computer for emergency messages. I'm sure every notification type has it's merits, but I don't think I'm going to open up the emergency application after every time I turn the computer on. My computer needs all the processing power it can get, and one more application doesn't help.


My thoughts exactly... the client which I.S. built seems like a waste of CPU cycles if it does nothing other than check for alerts (but this was the client they were asked to develop by upper administration). This is why the client I built offers users a lot more than just a background process that checks for alerts.
A little dated, but still works:
http://ucommxsrv1.unl.edu/uptodate/

But, one advantage a client like this offers is earlier notification of alerts... the police dispatchers are alerting the users, not the operators at the switchboard in NH, or news anchor X with channel X. Which means users will get the message quicker.

And users of their client or any client should not depend on it as the sole method for communicating alerts, just as the police should know that the desktop alert application shouldn't be the only method. One of many options which should be looked at. Integration is where the benefits are, and utilizing a common xml schema for publishing alerts should help.
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Postby rcrisler1 » Fri Apr 27, 2007 1:42 pm

For what it's worth, the initial release of the UNL UptoDate widget was Nov. 17, 2005, at which time the backend system was operational.

Everyone is well aware that some may not want to run a background app.

That's why the alert feed will be monitored in other ways.
____


Robert J Crisler
Manager, Internet and Interactive Media
University Communications
321 Canfield Administration Building
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
402-472-9878
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Forms of Emergency message delivery

Postby dsockrider » Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:45 am

When I'm sitting in my office, I have:

1. Landline telephone
2. Cell phone with text messaging
3. Email
4. Internet access
5. Public address system
6. Word of mouth communication
7. Emergency widget

When I'm not in the office I have:
1. Cell phone with text messaging

I believe one of the most effective methods of notifying large numbers of people regardless of location is text messaging.
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