Survey: Cost is the Leading Campus Mass Notification Challenge


The top three barriers campus public safety officials face when implementing emergency alert solutions are system cost, text message system enrollment and text message throughput, according to the Second Annual Mass Notification Survey conducted by Campus Safety Magazine. Despite these obstacles, 63 percent of respondents have deployed new or upgraded mass notification solutions in the past year, and 51 percent plan on doing so next year.

Nearly a third of survey takers (31 percent) said cost was the primary challenge they experienced with their mass notification solutions. Twenty four percent of respondents whose campuses did not add solutions or upgrade them cited cost as a reason why they were prevented from doing so.

Of those respondents who said their campuses did purchase new systems or upgrades in the past year, nearly one in four (73 percent) said mass notification is now considered part of their institution’s long-term safety and security strategies.

Additionally, more than two out of five (43 percent) said they have greater awareness of the risk management implications if they don’t deploy appropriate solutions. What prompted this awareness appears to have been active-shooter incidents at Columbine High School in 1999, Virginia Tech in 2007 and Northern Illinois University in 2008. Nearly two thirds (62 percent) of respondents said incidents such as these were one of the factors that prompted the deployment of their emergency alert systems.

Of those respondents whose institutions did not deploy new or upgraded mass notification solutions, only 42 percent said what they had in place was sufficient. Twenty eight percent indicated they were in the process of making a decision.

Other highlights of the study include:

  • Loudspeakers (38 percent), text messaging (35 percent), E-mails (35 percent) and digital displays (31 percent)  were the emergency alert systems that respondents most likely are going to deploy next year
  • Overall, Web site announcements are the most popular types of mass notification used by campuses (60 percent), although 86 percent of college respondents said their campuses send emergency alerts via text messages to cell phones, PDAs, BlackBerries or other mobile devices.
  • An average of 49 percent of college students have signed up for their campuses’ emergency text messaging program. For staff members or faculty, an average of 51 percent enrolled.
  • New student orientation (72 percent), E-mail announcements (71 percent), Web site announcements (70 percent) and new hire orientation (67 percent) are the most popular ways hospitals, schools and universities entice their campus constituents to enroll in their emergency text messaging systems. These methods were also considered the most effective at attracting users to sign up.

The survey also covered opt-in and opt-out text message system enrollment methods, system funding sources and who has the authority to issue emergency notices.

To view the complete survey results, go to Additional analysis of these results, as well as other mass notification topics can be found at

About Campus Safety Magazine: Campus Safety magazine exclusively serves police chiefs, security directors, IT personnel, executive administrators and other community stakeholders involved in the public safety and security of major U.S. hospitals, schools and universities. Campus Safety is a product of business-to-business publishing company Bobit Business Media. For more information, please visit

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