In an effort to improve the UCSB Alert Emergency Notification System, university officials have announced plans to install an alternate “talk-a-phone” system atop various campus buildings.
The new system — which will debut within the next four months — will allow university and police officials to publicly broadcast over loudspeakers the latest news and instructions in times of emergency. The university intends to erect three stations: one by the Student Resource Building, another by North Hall and a last near the on-campus residence halls. The departments of Administrative Services, Student Affairs and the Housing & Residential Services will be responsible for funding the installation of each emergency station, respectively.
The logistics of the project will be finalized in a meeting next week when Senior Associate Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services Marc Fisher and representatives from a talk-a-phone company will discuss the upcoming installation of the technology at the university.
According to Ron Cortez, Associate Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services, the towers, as part of a pilot program, will be subjected to evaluation 12 months after their placement.
“Our hope is that they will be successful and we can install more around campus [to] have a real system of them,” Cortez said. “We want to make sure that the technology actually does work and that they are effective in emergency situations.”
Moreover, Cortez said, the towers can function in two ways. Aside from being able to deliver messages directly through the UC Police Dept. Dispatch Center, the talk-a-phones will also be used by authorized personnel to make announcements manually through a phone attached to the tower.
Cortez said the towers, whose messages can reportedly be heard by anyone within a 1,000-foot radius, would complement the existing alert system and act as a buffer in the case of technological glitches.
“If they were up during the South Hall incident, we could have been giving concise direction from these towers,” Cortez said. “There can always be breakdowns in technology, so I think the solution is to have redundancy. That’s what we’re looking for these towers to provide.”
In line with the talk-a-phone improvements, Cortez said the administration is exploring the option of a reverse 9-1-1 system that would leave every registered subscriber to the UCSB Alert system an automated phone message in the case of a campus emergency.
“We’re always looking to see what we can do to advance our system for the future and always trying to boost communication in the event of an emergency,” Cortez said.