Send Word Now test run ‘a success’
Published: Thursday, September 18, 2008
Updated: Thursday, September 18, 2008 07:09
Students on Tufts' three campuses received phone calls and e-mails yesterday as the Department of Public and Environmental Safety tested its emergency notification system.
Precise data will be released today as to the number of students that the Send Word Now alert reached. But Geoffrey Bartlett, the Department of Public Safety's technical services manager, said, "We judged the test as a success."
Bartlett added, "I don't have any statistics or details to give you yet, but in general we found that the technology met or exceeded the performance of the March 26 test. That was the last time that we tested the system."
Send Word Now, Tufts' commercial emergency alert system, was introduced last school year. "[It] is one of many responses that Tufts and many other universities had after Virginia Tech," Bartlett said, referring to the shooting at the university on April 16, 2007. Tufts students have to sign up to receive the phone alerts, but most have done so. All students receive Send Word Now e-mails.
Some students got their phone call a few minutes sooner than others today, a nuance that Bartlett said indicated the limitations of the Send Word Now infrastructure.
"The system doesn't have the capacity to phone everyone at exactly the same time, so some people will receive the message on different modalities at different times than others," Bartlett said. "In an actual crisis situation, some modalities won't work as well as others."
He said the hope was that in the event of a real emergency, the first students to be notified would communicate with others.
According to Bartlett, each year the university uses the system, student awareness will increase, as will the software's efficacy and response speed.
"Going into it this year, at least 75 percent of the undergraduate population should have already been familiar with the system," he said.