Mass Notification Webinar Follow-up Q&A

Here are the responses to questions asked by the audience during the ‘Emergency Response and Communications – How to Incorporate a Holistic Approach on Your Campus’ webinar.

Technology and Procedures (cont.)

Q:  How do you protect contact information from being displayed in Outlook from other students, if the info is loaded in LDAP?

Dave: Our LDAP generates a comma-separated values (CSV) file on a daily basis, which is uploaded automatically to Blackboard Connect. That file has limited data and the email sent by Blackboard Connect does not include any secure data.

Q:  With all the components IT-based, how many systems will still be functional if that IT system goes down?

Jon:  A sound approach utilizes multiple methods of delivery and should be well planned out in advance. The reliance on the IT system should be considered before the system/program is designed and implemented. In addition, training and exercises should be conducted to test your team’s capabilities during all types of events and situations.

Q:  What software system does FSU use for electronic door access?

Dave: FSU uses Tyco Software House C-Cure system. It is NOT connected to the “EZ Button” system at this time, but may be considered in Phase 3 or later.

Q:  I work for a Public Safety Dept. in Georgia. Our college is not a 24/7 system. We are looking at installing Emergency call boxes. Is there a liability to having the boxes, but your department not being a 24/7 system? Our plan is to cover the boxes during off hours.

Berkly: I’m not a legal expert but my impression is that there is a risk, the same as having a call box that is broken. The appearance is a false sense of security. My recommendation is that if there is a blue light phone the call should be taken 24/7.

Q:  Would like to hear about the utility of Blue Light phones/towers on small campuses. My campus is only 80 sq acres. Would you recommend practical alternatives?

Berkly: The value of blue light phones is a topic often debated. My personal feeling is that they’re a fairly large investment for relatively limited ROI. Perhaps you’d consider wireless, solar towers in a few “risk areas,” otherwise try and leverage more scalable/affordable technologies.

Q: How often do you test the system? Do you utilize exercises when you are testing systems?

Berkly: It is recommended to test the full system a minimum of once per semester.

Dave: Every semester (Spring, Summer, Fall), generally in the first or second week. FULL test includes ALL delivery methods for at least 3 scenarios.

Q:  Have there been any efforts to standardize systems for campuses? Is there a recommended system?

Jon:  Standardization of systems is not recommended due to the fact that each university has different and distinct characteristics, as well as operational programs. To effectively develop a system, the university should develop a campus-specific master plan that outlines strategies to address specific concerns and issues related to the campus and students.

Q:  I’m with a K-12 school district with 9 separate locations. How would you recommend we implement these practices?

Jon:  Implementation of a plan is effectively done through the development of an exercise and education program designed to educate and test your staff members on how to respond to various emergencies. This process needs to be a district-wide approach to help standardize your strategies to handle emergency situations that could affect your district.

Berkly:  I recommend a hosted situational awareness approach to managing Mass Notification across school districts. In a perfect scen
ario, you could bring CCTV, Access Control and MNS into a local “fusion center” for centralized management.

Funding Sources

Q:  Speaking of funding hurdles for campus safety, are you aware of any specific federal or state level grants; or foundations that support this type of need?

Berkly: The UASI grants were commonly sought after, but as with any grant process, they tend to be extensive and very competitive. My suggestion would be to try and structure a financing arrangement with a vendor to pay over time. Or, impose a “safety fee” on tuition to fund related projects similar to what the airlines have done.

Dave:  FSU has funded all its projects through a combination of internal-university funding, Florida Legislature dollars and State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) funds.

Related Articles:

Photo via Flickr by Phelim Hoey


If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo