Iowa State's Critical Incident Readiness Team (CIRT) will test ISU Alert during the first week of April. The emergency notification system alerts students, faculty and staff to potentially dangerous situations by phone, email and text message.
In anticipation of the test, CIRT chair Vernon Hurte, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, encourages all university community members to review and update their ISU Alert notification options in AccessPlus. This is important because:
- Employee notification for text messages is left blank unless an individual designates a phone number for that option. Voice and email options are automatically filled in with employees' office numbers and email addresses.
- The same is true for students' text message alerts. That field is left blank until they designate a phone number for the text option. Additionally, voice notification defaults to the phone number on record. If a student has not updated that number since enrolling, in many cases the emergency message may go to a parent phone or a permanent home number, which doesn't reach the student directly. The email field is automatically populated with each student's @iastate.edu address.
"We want to know how you can most quickly and likely be reached," Hurte said. "The contact information you share isn't used beyond ISU Alert."
New partner: Rave Mobile Safety
ISU Alerts have been sent to the university community more than three dozen times since the emergency message service began in 2007 -- including all tests, critical incidents, weather-related alerts and all-clear messages.
This spring, Iowa State transitioned from Blackboard Connect to a new vendor, Massachusetts-based Rave Mobile Safety, to power ISU Alert. Iowa State is among 500 U.S. campuses, including the University of Iowa, to implement Rave. Dispatchers in the department of public safety will be responsible for sending emergency messages, and they have been testing the new system weekly with a sample group since October. April's campuswide ISU Alert test will be the first under the new vendor.
What you'll see
- SMS text messages: Text messages will come from either 67283 or 226787, according to Michael Newton, assistant vice president and chief of ISU Police. He encouraged employees and students to save these numbers in their phones so they recognize them when receiving future messages. If a mobile carrier or wireless plan doesn't support these short codes, the alert message would come from @getrave.com, he said.
- Email: Emergency notifications will come from firstname.lastname@example.org
Newton said faculty, staff and students who received ISU Alert messages under the previous infrastructure (Blackboard Connect) probably won't notice much difference under Rave -- yet. But the new system -- Rave Guardian -- includes options campus leaders plan to review and may integrate in the coming weeks and months. These include a mobile app that turns any smartphone into a personal safety device, the ability to dial 911 at the touch of a button and other enhancements. Newton said these features have been implemented at other institutions and could provide "increased capability and capacity."
"We also will look toward more integration with social media and links to digital signage," he said.
Other emergency measures
ISU Alert is just one way to deliver critical emergency information to students, faculty and staff. Updates also are provided on the university homepage and through official social media platforms (Twitter, for example: @ISUPD, @IowaStateU and @IowaStateUNews). There also are warning sirens, public address announcements and other means already in place.
"As always, when you receive an alert, please follow the direction given," Newton said. "And if you're at the scene of an emergency, remain calm and follow instructions from police. It takes all of us to make sure we have a safe and secure campus."
Questions about ISU Alert may be directed to email@example.com or Heather Forburger, DPS administrative specialist, 294-3116.