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This year’s Are you ready? campaign will be held from Sept. 26 to Oct. 7. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.

Text messaging, screen alerts now part of emergency features for students

While the uoAlert program has been around for several years, the University of Ottawa has recently made significant changes to it, adding new features, tools, and troubleshooting to improve speed and efficiency.

The uoAlert notification system was originally designed to alert students and staff in the event of an emergency, explaining the steps to take to remain safe.

Some of the new features in this latest update include text message notifications and Alertus screen alerts. The Alertus feature can be downloaded directly from the Are you ready? website, which was launched in October 2012 as an educational platform for emergency procedures on campus.

“(Students) can opt-in to text messaging by texting AUO to 770077,” said Isabelle Mailloux-Pulkinghorn, acting manager of the U of O’s Media Relations. “Emails will also be sent to all uOttawa.ca email addresses and of course the University of Ottawa website will display an emergency Banner anytime uoAlert is activated.”

According to Mailloux-Pulkinghorn, the U of O is further developing their security measures to keep students and staff safe, with changes to be seen over the next year.

“We’re currently working on several new initiatives to continue improving upon uoAlert and to enhance our response capabilities on campus. Keep an eye out for us in 2017 for some special announcements.”

In addition to these new changes to the uoAlert system, an awareness campaign is being held at the U of O to promote the Are you ready? program, as well as to encourage students to subscribe to the university’s notification system.

“No matter what system you put in place, the success of any emergency preparedness approach rests with people involved. It is up to every individual—students, staff, faculty members—to educate themselves about the various types of incidents and ensure they know what to do.”

This year’s campaign will run from Sept. 26 to Oct. 7, however there has not been any promotion for the campaign on the U of O’s website.

Mailloux-Pulkinghorn also told the Fulcrum that the best protection in an emergency is to know what to do before the emergency happens.

“Safety and security of our student population is a key priority for the university,” she said. “With over 40,000 students and 5,000 staff on our campus, we must keep in mind that an unfortunate event can happen. As members of the (U of O) community, we all have a role to play in keeping ourselves and those around us safe.”