In order to avoid confusion during a possible campus-wide emergency – like the events that occurred at Virginia Tech – the university has brought the UCSB Alert system online.
An e-mail sent this past week to UCSB students and faculty announced the arrival of the new notification service, which is intended to improve communication in times when the quick exchange of information could potentially save lives.
UCSB Alert employs modern messaging systems, including e-mail and text messaging, to ensure the delivery of important emergency information in the shortest time possible. The system is complementary and works in conjunction with the UCSB Web site, www.ucsb.edu, various university radio stations and a UCSB emergency hotline.
While recent tragedies such as the Virginia Tech massacre hastened the adoption and improvement of emergency communication services, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael D. Young said plans for the creation of UCSB Alert were already in effect.
“We have been heading in this direction for a number of years,” Young said. “I would just say that the Virginia Tech tragedy really solidified our efforts and helped push us along. It’s something we needed to do, and I’m glad that we could unveil it.”
Fourth year English major Eric Seguy said that while he thinks UCSB Alert is a good attempt at improving campus safety, it may not be very helpful in a real life emergency situation.
“[UCSB Alert] seems like a token response to the past,” Seguy said. “While communication systems might facilitate safety, you can’t really avoid or predict such things because emergencies are spontaneous by nature … you’re not going to flip on the radio when you’re dodging bullets.”
Indeed, the viewpoint that no system can fully prepare those in an emergency is one that Seguy and Vice Chancellor Young share.
“It’s another tool,” Young said. “There’s no one action, no one activity, no one program that will bring security. We are trying to provide an array of working, effective, reliable mechanisms to respond appropriately to an emergency situation.”
Despite this, Young said he believes that proper planning can lead to better emergency response and urges students to sign up for the notification service on the UCSB Alert Web site.
“We have all kinds of issues, [from] earthquakes [to] fires.” Young said. “Now with this generation of students and technology, we should be able to handle these issues more effectively. However, for it to be effective, people need to sign up.”
To sign up, students can visit the UCSB Alert Web site at alert.ucsb.edu. Students will need to provide their perm number, current cell phone number, current cell phone carrier and preferred e-mail address.
Tests of the notification service are run quarterly, with the first trial e-mail distributed to the campus community yesterday.