Though they were many, these methods required Temple community members to seek out the information, a system that could leave those who did not know to check stranded on an empty campus.
However, in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy and Hurricane Katrina, the university has updated its alert system to offer a more comprehensive and timely system of emergency notification that reaches out to staff, faculty and students where they are.
Announced in late October, the new MIR3 security alert system is a multi-pronged emergency communication system that relies on text-messaging, phone calls, e-mail and web updates to alert staff, faculty and students of any potential school closings or emergency situations.
“If classes are ever closed for snow emergencies, this will be a great benefit,” said Tim O’Rourke, vice president of Computer and Information Services.
Notifying students and faculty of school closings due to inclement weather will most likely be the system’s primary function, but the MIR3 can also be used to warn of any possible criminal activity.
Last week, the new system was used to issue a warning to all students and faculty via e-mail, after a student was assaulted on campus. Text messaging and voicemail were not used in that situation after police felt that there was no further imminent danger.
The MIR3 system, which is also used by the University of Pennsylvania, is just one of eight security alert systems that O’Rourke and several other Temple administrators spent nearly two months reviewing before making their final decision.
“As a result of Virginia Tech, a number of companies offer this service now. [MIR3] is fairly simple to put in, and it’s a good system,” O’Rourke said.
Though the new system provides four different methods to convey an emergency message, it stores only one cell phone number for each person. This had led to concerns that bad cell phone reception could mean missed notifications, but the addition of text messaging, e-mails, residential phone calls and web updates should lay any fears of missed messages to rest.
“There was a big debate over that,” O’Rourke explained, “but doubling 40,000 phone calls would take nearly four hours, and speed is of the utmost importance in this system.”
O’Rourke went on to say that in an emergency, the system would call phones in the various residential halls.
While the new system is much more comprehensive than Temple’s previous security alert system, O’Rourke admits there is one sticking point.
“The system is no good unless you sign up for it,” O’Rourke said. “We’re asking everyone to take one minute and go on to sign up for this system.”
Of the 42,746 eligible for the new system, 2,163 employees and 8,536 students have already updated their contact information.
While these numbers continue to grow, O’Rourke is urging all students and faculty to update their emergency notification contact information as soon as possible.
More than 40,000 people are eligible to sign up for the new system, and doubling that number would take nearly four hours to contact everyone. In an emergency situation, time is of the essence.
By using a multi-pronged approach like the MIR3, students and faculty will be alerted not only by their cell phones, but also by text messaging, e-mail, updates on Temple’s web site and phone calls to residential halls to ensure that the emergency message is received.
The new system is designed to alert students and faculty of any campus emergencies such as school closings, weather emergencies, and possible criminal activity.
1. Go to http://owlnet.temple.edu and log in.
2. Click on the Update Address tab at the top of the screen.
3. Click on Emergency Notification on the left menu.
4. Follow the instructions to fill in your information.
5. When you have finished, click on Go.
1. Go to http://ess.temple.edu and log in.
2. Under the My Profile section on the left, click on Emergency Notification.
3. Follow the instructions to fill in your information in section 1 or section 2.
4. When you have finished, click on Update.
5. Finally, enter your AccessNet password and click on Confirm.
— Written by Tom Rice
For Temple University News Communications