10 Practices to Improve Campus Notification

The following is a breakdown of best practices for campus safety officials to guarantee information gets to the entire campus in case of an emergency:

  • Use a layered approach incorporating several technologies so the strengths of one solution can compensate for the weaknesses of others (and vice versa)


  • Get the IT department involved at the beginning of the planning process


  • Test the system: “I think it is important to inform your stakeholders about the use of the mass notification systems and arrange for a test message to be sent to all individuals at least once per school semester,” says Karl Borland, director of the Center for Safe and Secure Schools, Harris County Department of Education. Sirens and loudspeakers can be tested with non-alert tones (Florida State tests their system by playing chime tones at designated times of the day or the school fight song before games)


  • Determine ahead of time who has the authority to issue emergency alert notices. When not determined beforehand, confusion and significant delays can result


  • Develop the standard operating procedures (SOPs) concurrently with the purchase of the system


  • Before an emergency occurs, provide public safety officials with clear guidelines


  • Use the system enough so campus constituents see the value of it, but don’t overuse the system so people stop paying attention to the messages


  • Get feedback from customers on how the system is working for them.


  • Be certain to account for the hearing and sight impaired (using strobes, etc.)


  • Educate the campus community on how the system is used and what to expect and do during an emergency

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Robin Hattersley Gray is executive editor of Campus Safety. She can be reached at robin.gray@bobit.con.


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About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

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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