[CSG Fall 2007] Policy discussion on emergency communications on campus

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Bill Clebsch from Stanford is leading a discussion on campus emergency respons

– University-wide Governance Bodies – there are various campus bodies that think they’re running emergency communications. This is not making for a coordinated effort.

Shel notes that at Berkeley the gray areas are around when to declare activation of emergency response systems.

Tracy notes that there tends to be too much focus on systems and technology rather than the process – nobody’s working on the hard problem of how will we get quick responses from administrators who need to activate the systems.

Steve Sather says that at Princeton there’s a good working process for deciding whether the campus closes for snow, so that’s easy to leverage for other emergencies.

At Yale they have telephony tools including broadcast voicemail and some phones with PA speakers. THey have some homegrown tools for sending mass emails. They could send text messages to phones, but don’t have good cell number data.

Steve Sather observes that the usual perception is that when communication happens quickly it’s perceived later as having been a job well done, and when people wait in order to be prudent it’s usually seen as having been not good. The lesson is to communicate quickly and as much as possible.

Princeton has an emergency preparedness task force with executive membership from across the institutions. People who deal with emergencies carry a card with home, cell, work, and alternate phone numbers for all the members of that task force. At Chicago they’ve distributed that info to people in a spreadsheet and taught them how to import that into Outlook. At Berkeley they’ve distributed campus maps and blueprints on thumb drives to emergency responders.

Princteon baught Connect_ED. They did a lot of work to sort the campus community by department, buildings, etc. They tested Connect-ED on May 11. They then used it for bomb threats in grad student housing and the engineering quad. They used Connect-Ed to notify just the people in affected areas – 192 people in one area, 471 in the other. Information was delivered in ten minutes once they decided to deliver it.

Princeton maintains the data on people and then feeds it into the system. This was the first year they’ve asked the incoming class for cell number as part of the regular packet of information they have to fill out. In previous years when they’ve asked students for that separately they’ve gotten less than 20%. This year, because the parents fill out the packet, they have 92%.

Yale is also collecting parent cell-ohone info as part of collecting emergency information.

Collecting information on affiliates who aren’t students or employees is difficult.

People are doing regular tests, ranging from twice a year to monthly.

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