UH tests new emergency systems

The University of Hawai‘i in Honolulu has successfully tested a new system to notify personnel responsible for helping to manage emergency and crisis situations at the institution.

During the test, more than 100 people received automated e-mails and phone calls via the NTI Connect-ED system, which was selected by the university last year from a number of alternatives and is the same system used by several private schools in Honolulu.

While UH has had e-mail distribution capability for its students and faculty, the new program allows for automated distribution of notices by phone and multiple e-mail addresses.

The April 30 test involved only emergency and administrators who are part of the university’s institutional crisis response teams.

“No single approach can address all kinds of emergencies, so we need to incorporate a variety of strategies and technologies,” said David Lassner, UH vice president of information technology and chief information officer.

A number of recent events as well as last October’s earthquake highlighted the need for improvements in emergency communications.

Though the test and planned use of NTI Connect-ED focuses on communicating with crisis management teams, UH plans to expand the approach to provide text messages directly to any of its 60,000 students, faculty and staff who can accept emergency notices on their mobile phones.

Less high-tech notification systems such as warning sirens and public announcement systems are also being considered.

The NTI Group responsible for the system specializes in time-based notification delivery via voice, text message and SMS, and e-mail, according to its Web site.

The Connect-ED service is designed specifically for educators, with separate programs for kindergarten through grade 12 schools and higher education institutions.

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