Friday, February 29, 2008


Safety at UH needs a sound solution

by Larry Geller

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?" Ok now, if UH sends text messages and no one receives them, are they solving the problem of notifying students in the event of an emergency?

Doug Carlson takes up this issue on his CHORE blog.

Today's Advertiser story, UH offers emergency text alerts to students, describes a technology approach to getting the word out to students and faculty in the event of a campus emergency.

As the article points out, though, this is only partially effective. Students in class, professors, and those walking around may not see the messages. Text messages are certainly a good idea, but won't reach many students. As the article points out, few will subscribe.

The email approach UH chose in October was worth doing at the time, but even more  inadequate as a future solution:

The texts are limited to 130 characters and are designed to close the information gap experienced in October when a 46-year-old man was arrested in Moili'ili after threatening to shoot 30 UH-Manoa students.

UH officials immediately issued a campuswide e-mail alert after the man was overheard making the threats on a city bus. But students who didn't read their e-mails continued to walk the 330-acre campus unaware of the manhunt.

The article covers the problems and describes other parts of the solution.

For more discussion on the UH security situation, click over to Doug Carlson's article, Text Messaging Has a Role in Emergencies, but UH Needs Much More To Reach Everyone.


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