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College debuts new emergency notification service
October 2009 - The Community College of Rhode Island soon will have a new emergency notification system. Students, faculty and staff can sign up now to receive e-mail or text message alerts about canceled classes or safety risks, ranging from severe weather school closings to an intruder on campus.
“We’re hoping we never have to use it but if we do, there is a lot of value getting in touch with people quickly,” said Stephen Vieira, chief information officer.
During an emergency, people who have signed up for the notification system will receive an e-mail, text message or both, depending on what criteria they specified when signing up. The messages will be brief, stating the nature of the situation and what, if anything, the receiver needs to do to stay safe.
Vieira said that contact information will not be shared and the system will not be used for unnecessary communications.
“We want to be careful we’re not abusing the fact that people put some confidence in us,” Vieira said.
Members of the CCRI community can sign up for the emergency notification system online at the website for RAVE Wireless, the company providing the notification technology, www.getrave.com/login/ccri. Click "Register Now."
The website asks for a user’s name, CCRI e-mail address and mobile phone number. The use of CCRI e-mail addresses ensures that only members of the CCRI community can sign up for the notifications. Registration is completely free; the only charge for users would be any cost they incur from their carrier for receiving a text message.
The RAVE system is designed so that a message can be received within three minutes of being sent to the entire network of registered users. This short amount of time is critical, Vieira said, for ensuring safety during an emergency and is a convenience during a less serious situation. For example, a person preparing to leave for class may receive a text message saying that classes are canceled for the day.
He added that the emergency notification system would have been highly convenient last semester when a broken water line at the Knight Campus caused the closing of the building.
“As we started moving into this process we realized some of the ways we could have used it and the ways we will use it moving forward,” Vieira said.
In the future, this could mean that students can receive their grades via text message or identify themselves as members of a particular group to receive updates relevant to them. For example, if a club meeting is relocated, members of the club who have signed up for the notification service could receive a message informing them of the change.
For now though, the system is strictly for emergencies. Vieira said it could prove useful going into the winter season, with impending inclement weather and the risk of an outbreak of H1N1 flu.
Vieira encouraged all members of the CCRI community to sign up for the alerts. He predicted that enrollment in the alert system will spike after the first class cancellation causes people to realize how convenient the system can be. But he urges participation before then.
"This is a first for CCRI," he said. "We hope that a lot of people grasp how useful it can be."