UCSB administrators have installed five new emergency speakers to alert campus members of oncoming tsunamis and other emergency situations and disasters, testing the new devices on Monday.
The university first developed plans to install the speakers in 2009, installing the first one in June 2010 and finally finishing the project this past week. Testing on Monday was completed in testing trials lasting five to 10 minutes and the speakers broadcasted a number of phrases related to emergency conditions. According to the UCSB Emergency Operations Plan, the alerting system will be used to provide timely warnings regarding events of natural disaster — such as tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes — as well as other types of emergency situations, including terror threats, bombing threats and incidents of civil unrest or rioting amongst other events. The plan’s report also states the speakers — which each have a range of 2,400 feet — will be one addition to that wide- ranging collection of warning systems the campus has already put in place.
According to Carrie Frandsen, manager of Emergency and Continuity Services, the speakers will allow the UCSB Police Department to broadcast emergency messages across the entire campus, with the exception of outlying buildings and communities like Campus Point and Manzanita Village.
“The mass notification outdoor speakers were installed to provide a way for the campus to communicate information to those in outdoor areas of the UCSB campus in the event of any significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students, employees or visitors occurring on the campus,” Frandsen said in an email.
Police officials will be able to speak directly into the system or even broadcast pre-recorded messages across campus. To ensure the emergency equipment is properly functioning at all times, speakers will be tested quarterly and will not be used for any other purposes beside emergency announcements, Frandsen said.
“The UCSB Police Department will decide what messages will be broadcasted, as they are responsible for the safety and security of the UCSB campus,” Frandsen said in an email.
According to Police Department Detective Sergeant Robert Romero, the system does not replace other forms of message communication on crime.
“The purpose of these speaker systems being put in place, is to create redundancy in case any type of emergency happens on campus,” Romero said. “As you know, we have the emergency notification that students get texts if, and when, things happen at UCSB and in Isla Vista.”
Romero also said there are emergency facilities that are easily accessible to students in the case of on- campus emergencies.
“Also, they have the crawl screens inside the residence halls regarding information that may affect students regarding anything, from an emergency to any type of specific ongoing crime that may be occurring,” Romero said. “And the speaker systems are just another way to get the information out so that students, faculty and staff are aware of potential hazards that are going on.”
Even with the numerous other emergency facilities and warning systems, Romero said the speakers are a necessary addition since they can act as an additional method of emergency alerting, particularly in the event that other systems are flawed or nonfunctioning.
“Let’s just say that there is a gas pipe that broke, or a building is on fire, or we have some type of active incident going on,” Romero said. “We want to make sure that our community is aware of it [by] notifying them to possibly stay away from certain locations while fire rescue or police are handling the situation.”
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of January 24th, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus.