Friday, December 9, 2011

New emergency notification system test a success

By Julianne Bartosz
Copy Editor

Saint Mary’s University’s new emergency notification system through Blackboard Connect was successfully tested on Nov. 17, according to Vice President for Student Development Chris Kendall.

The new emergency notification system uses Blackboard Connect to send out an emergency alert via email, phone call and text message. This technology supplements SMU’s emergency notification speakers in campus buildings and residence halls and cameras in key locations around campus, according to Kendall.

“The system works well, but we have also learned its flaws,” said Kendall. He said that 93 percent of the 2,680 total messages were delivered successfully during the test. Kendall said the test found that not everyone received messages, while some people received multiple messages.

Kendall said students, faculty and staff will be able to edit their contact information for the system through WebTools. He said he will send out an email when the primary contact form is ready to be edited on WebTools.

Senior Bob Rousseau, Student Senate president, said that the new system is a step in the right direction.

“I have always felt safe on campus, but it is essential to be ready if something does happen,” said Rousseau, adding that it is important to be able to reach people right where they are.

SMU’s Director of Campus Safety Phil Gaddis said the new system is “the link to the culture society is taking us to.” He said that the system will be used strictly for emergencies with the exception of a test each semester. “It will be used sparingly, but enough to keep us familiar with it and to make sure it works,” said Gaddis.

“We do not want people to dismiss it,” said Kendall. “I hope we never have to use it, but I do not want to have a situation where I wish we had the technology.”

Questions or concerns can be addressed to Chris Kendall via email at or his office phone at 507-457-1781.

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