Failure to send

Some students receive alert, others delayed

Melissa Norris, Staff Writer

A high-pitched alarm, flashing lights and a trudge down to the basement.

Tornado drills were a part of last week’s National Severe Weather Alert Week.

Some students were alerted by a text message before and after the drill, some were not.

The messages were a part of the AlertSense text message alert system, designed to deliver notifications for campus emergencies. However, the alert system did not function as school officials had hoped.

“There was a significant delay in delivery of the initial message sent out at 10:11 a.m. for some campus community members, while there was not delay for others,” Director of College Relations Jay Collier said in an email to all faculty and staff. “I sent a second message at 10:25 a.m. regarding the end of the drill, which was received immediately by some in our community while not received at all by others.”

Network and Technology Services (NATS), as well as AlertSense, are working to correct the problem.

In addition to sending in a trouble ticket to AlertSense, NATS analyzed their own data.

“It was Verizon cell customers who had the issues. US Cellular customers that we spoke with received both the alert and all-clear messages in a timely fashion (under two minutes). Verizon customers received the alert message roughly 10 minutes after it was sent and didn’t receive the all-clear message at all,” John Dunning, Chief Information Officer of NATS, said.

AlertSense pays Verizon to deliver messages onto its network.

As of right now, NATS isn’t sure if the issue was with the message delivery system or the Verizon cell tower in Wayne.

However, the purpose of the testing of these notification protocols is to help identify any problems and fix them before an actual emergency strikes.

“Identifying gaps in coverage and problems associated with cell phone providers in our area will help us refine our notification procedures to ensure that, in the event of an actual emergency, we can do what is necessary to keep the members of our community safe,” Collier said.

According to their website, AlertSense is a mass emergency notification system, not only for college campuses, but for federal, state and local governments, corporations and not-for-profit entities across the country.

Between NATS and AlertSense, these issues should be resolved quickly.

“We understand that this is a critical function to keep our campus community safe and we’re taking resolution of the problem very seriously,” Dunning said.