Alert system keeps students aware of emergencies

Ryan Durgy
Biz/Tech Reporter
The Public Safety department's Alert App keeps students up to date on campus emergencies (Ryan Durgy)
The Public Safety department’s Alert App keeps students up to date on campus emergencies (Ryan Durgy)

Students who want to stay alert about safety concerns on campus have to do so proactively by signing up for the Humber Alert service.

Rob Kilfoyle, director of Public Safety and Emergency Management, said Blackboard Connect, which was renamed Humber Alert by his department, alerts students about evacuations, school closures and more.

“It’s a program that allows us to send emergency communications and notifications to anyone who’s signed up on the system,” Kilfoyle said.

Messages can be sent out through the system via text message, email, or a phone call to your house, business, or cell phone.

Kilfoyle said students have to sign up to receive alerts by accessing the Humber Alert portal page via the public safety website. He said the student has to register for a free account and then enter their contact information.

Students can choose their campus so that they only get notifications about that specific campus.

Some students like Jamie Voisin, a second-year Radio Broadcasting student, are upset that a sign-up process is required to receive the alerts.

“Personally I think that should come required with tuition, I shouldn’t have to sign up for that,” Voisin said.

“It’s an alert system? Well I think we should all be able to be alerted. When you start at Humber you give your email, so that should just be standard,” Voisin said.

“There’s a privacy implication,” Kilfoyle said. “You’re bascially giving us your information and so we want you to, with your knowledge and consent, consent to the fact that you’re providing us with personal information.”

Kilfoyle said they want to make sure people make the informed decision to sign up for Humber Alert.

Kilfoyle also noted many people don’t want to receive alerts and emails and their research has shown many colleges and universities use a registration method.

“That way we are not accused of sending information to people that they don’t want to receive it,” Kilfoyle said.

Regan Cuthbert is a fourth year Justice student at the University of Guelph-Humber and works as a community service representative with the Campus Walk program under the Department of Public Safety.

Cuthbert said the department does a good job getting information and alerts to students.

“And they are very good at letting the student body and faculty know what to do in that situation,” Cuthbert said.

Cuthbert said he receives alerts sent to his phone via the push message notifications from Public Safety’s Guardian app, although Kilfoyle said that alert messages are only guaranteed when students sign up to receive them through Humber’s Alert system.

“We don’t have any way of tracking and guaranteeing that people get information (via the app). With the Humber Alert system we actually have the ability to track and trace successful communications,” Kilfoyle  said.

Kilfoyle said the agreement with the company that manages the app doesn’t state the server has to be up most of the time.

He said the contract for Humber Alert, however, states the server must be up to a certain standard and it will always be accessible and the delivery of messages is almost guaranteed.

Kilfoyle is hoping that by September the Humber Alert system will be linked to Humber’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts to be able to reach more people.

Voisin said he supports the idea of posting Public Safety alerts via Humber’s social media pages.

Kilfoyle also said the department is working on getting the Humber TV network and computer monitors connected to the system so that alerts would appear right on those screens.

 

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