Comments from 2024 Campus Safety Emergency Notification Survey Participants

Campus protection pros who took part in this year’s Emergency Notification Survey talk about the successes and challenges with their systems.

Comments from 2024 Campus Safety Emergency Notification Survey Participants

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The 2024 Campus Safety Emergency Notification Survey asked the more than 250 campus protection professionals who participated to describe the successes and challenges they’ve experienced with their emergency notification, mass notification, and alert systems. Here’s what some of them said:

Emergency Notification System Successes:

  • Using our app, we implemented a lockdown immediately and were able to notify all staff that there was a manhunt near school. We were able to notify them of this information without announcing it, thus keeping our students calm.
  • We have successfully used the system to inform about CLERY required incidents.
  • Mass notification for flooding event… many employees were able to move personal vehicles to avoid damage.
  • As I complete this, we had a severe snow storm in the Chicagoland area and had to close our school for the day. The email/mobile app platform we used was very successful in getting that message out.
  • We experienced flooding from storms that shut down several buildings. It was nice to customize our message on a daily basis for the building status.
  • We recently realized some of our vendors were not part of the system and were able to get that fixed and they are now receiving the notifications.
  • We have linked our MNS to our personnel database so the enrollment is automatically updated when employees/student are hired/enrolled and inactivated with they are no longer employed or graduate.
  • We have integrated our phones with the speakers in campus buildings. Anything that comes over the speakers will also come through the speaker on your phone.
  • My campus is located in an area of the country that deals with many severe weather events. We use our mass notification system frequently to distribute information on tornado watches and warnings and other severe weather events. When we use our mass notification system to communicate to our campus about tornadoes, we always see an influx of students, faculty, and staff into our storm shelters and BARAs. This is proof that the mass notification system and our emergency messages are working.
  • We have used mass Text messaging to alert field staff to avoid a neighborhood where a SWAT incident was occurring.
  • We used our notification systems to announce a late start for the school day. We had zero calls from families reporting they did not receive the message. We had zero students or staff arrive early.
  • We are now able to bring all local Public Information Officers together on a conference call with a single phone call.
  • We’ve had members of the community call law enforcement to advise of suspects in the area after alerts were sent. This has led to several arrests.
  • We have been able to get messages out quickly and easy due to saved templates.
  • We collaborated with our district about five times over a two-month period related to power outages on the campus that affected the closure of the college.
  • No parent complaints = success.
  • We recently upgraded our public address system to include some more secluded areas on the campus.
  • Infrastructure emergency, flooding of several floors. Were able to notify employees and students to avoid that building.
  • 100% of our families and staff are accessible via our mass notification systems.
  • We hold drills and our systems seem to work well. We ask for feedback and debrief on any problems which need to be addressed.
  • Adding a hyperlink of a map to the impacted location has received positive feedback from the community.
  • We’ve moved forward in having greater access to this system as a department instead of PR/Strategic Communications having sole control of the system. Having to contact multiple individuals when it comes time to send time sensitive alerts will become problematic if PR staff are not immediately available when contacted. Additionally, more steps take more time, and you may not have this luxury.
  • I was able to send an alert while sitting on an airplane.
  • Our safety drills are conducted with fidelity due to the emergency notification system that we are currently using (intercom systems, ROBO calls).
  • Alerted to a potential infant abduction. Turned out to be a false alarm but it worked.
  • Text, voicemail, email, and social media postings effectively alerted our school community of a string of snow-days.
  • Upgrades to our campus life safety systems over the last eight years have been successful in helping keep our campuses safer for our campus communities. The PA system-fire speaker strobes, hallway speakers and phone speakers have been used for emergency announcements for a major natural gas leak, tornado warnings, and drills.  The texting, emails and social media updates are typically non-emergency notifications regarding closures and other college business-traffic or building closures, etc.
  • Report received there was a weapon on campus. All agencies notified, school was locked down, and weapon was retrieved without incident.



  • Removing students who have dropped out or graduated from the system has been our biggest challenge.
  • Our mass notification system is only designed to work with certain social media sites (i.e., Facebook and Twitter). Our students would rather get information from Instagram.
  • A lot of people see they’re receiving an alert from a phone number and, without reading the message, immediately call the number back and ask, “Why did you call me?”
  • As the system ages, it becomes expensive to maintain.
  • We have one building on campus where the speakers are no longer working. It is taking longer than I would like to find a cost-effective way to get it back on line.
  • The system we use to call parents with messages sometimes goes down and is inaccessible.
  • Some places on campus still have difficulties hearing anything that comes over the speaker system.
  • Notifications can cause panic by parents and care givers.
  • Teachers felt that they were not communicated well enough during our VCI to make decisions.
  • How to account for students quickly, especially for common areas.
  • Our mass notification system has limited number of characters per message, so it is cumbersome to use at times.
  • Complicated to use in conjunction with our Transportation Routing database.
  • We are not allowed to load team member cell numbers into the system when hired and have them opt out if they don’t want to get them. Our system is only an opt in system.
  • Our biggest challenge is we don’t have our notifications set up to allow more than one person activate the announcements. To communicate through social media, email, via phone, text, and signage, we need several different people to log in each to get all of the information out.
  • We can only share information we receive. If the victim can’t fully describe the offender, we get push back like, “Why wasn’t the race of the offender identified?”
  • Our biggest challenge is that our PA system is attached to our fire panels. This causes most of our issues, as any work or message changes that need to be completed, require someone who is ULC Certified to do the work. and every time we test the system, there is always a problem that needs to be fixed.
  • Appropriate application of tools based on scenario, some tech limitations/difficulty, faculty training and usage, and limited cell service.
  • Every message we send out has to be translated to Spanish as well due to our demographics.
  • Not getting students and staff to sign up for text messages.
  • Newly installed outdoor blue lights not operating due to a contractor error.
  • The administration does not test the emergency alert system, despite my requests.
  • Wifi and cellular service both have gaps indoors and outdoors, even in our urban area with no hi-rises and mostly ordinary construction.
  • Need a better system for our students with hearing impairments.
  • We would like to have an intercom system to use for broadcast alerts.
  • Training different buildings on new technology is a challenge.
  • Some carriers send the message differently than intended. Users are unable to open an attachment without going through an extra step. Some users unknowingly block the text messages as it never comes from the same 5- or 6-digit number. They will block unknown numbers or not in contact list.
  • Don’t have templates ready and easily accessible. Dispatchers don’t have time to send a notification due to other responsibilities.
  • We struggle with getting top leadership to coordinate and make decisions quickly. Also, most are not familiar with emergency management tools used by the EOC team, which can muddy the response or cause confusion.
  • Our building is cinderblock construction, and there are occasionally certain cell phone providers who’s signal doesn’t reliably work in some parts of the building. Fortunately,  AT&T as well as First Net work throughout the building.
  • Our previous system stopped working in the middle of an emergency.
  • Getting upper management to buy in to better notification systems.
  • Getting overhead paging system to be heard by people in all areas of the facility.
  • Sometimes students have headphones or earbuds with loud music and are not aware of the notifications.
  • Foreign language speakers – challenging to offer content in foreign language per user.
  • Unfortunately, we aren’t apprised in a timely manner of emergency situations surrounding campus by local public safety organizations
  • We have some large campuses that have almost 100 portables that create a challenge with notifications.
  • Our system was struck by lightning sometime during the spring, and we did not know it until we went to do our summer session test. It took several months and lots of communication in order to get the company to come out and fix the problem with the correct parts.
  • There is limited support from senior management to properly maintain the system and populate it with pre-determined messages or employment groups.
  • Loud classes like band, choir and shop classes are not able to hear audible alarms reliably. We’re working on funding to address a visual notification system.
  • Controlling the message if false information goes out first.
  • Staff and parents not reading messages and claiming never received.


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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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