Don’t be alarmed if you receive a warning voicemail or text message on your cell phone tomorrow – it’s just a test.
UC Davis WarnMe Emergency Alert system will be conducting what will be a yearly test this Wednesday at approximately 11:50 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. to all registered e-mail accounts and phones.
“Students are a big reason why we want to have this,” said Valerie Lucus, Emergency and Business Continuity manager. “Because safety and security are one of the top priorities we have here on this campus.”
Tomorrow’s test will send messages to all 74,000 e-mails, 34,000 phones and 17,000 SMS devices.
“We had the capability to do this last year,” Lucus said. “What it gets down to is what is the most effective method to tell people [of emergencies].”
Text messages, both SMS and e-mail, are much quicker to use than voice messages, Lucus said.
“Text-based questions are much shorter and take less bandwidth and go out very quickly,” she said. “Voice messages have more variable to factor in.”
Lucas expects all text-based messages to be sent out within 15 minutes – an efficient method if there was a real emergency. Voice messages however, can only be sent one at a time, and depend on the length of the message and amount of available portals.
This system was recently used when a bomb threat was made to the UC Davis Cancer Center on Apr. 13 in which evacuation was necessary. The system can pick and choose who it send messages to, in this case only targeting those affected at the Medical Center.
Some students may recall an e-mail warning message sent out in the 2007-2008 school year when a student was found to have an abundance of chemicals in his Tercero dormitory.
Lucus stressed the importance of getting information directly from campus officials in cases of emergency, especially if media coverage is involved.
“In that case, there was a need to reach the campus to let them know what was really going on, and not from the media, which was saying that the whole campus was evacuated, which was untrue,” Lucus said.
The system, which officially began in late 2007, was largely motivated by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University massacre that occurred on Apr. 17, 2007.
Students can use MyUCDavis and SISWEB to update their information. Lucas encourages that students regularly check their information to make sure that it is up to date at least once per quarter.
“We devised a method that every 120 days from the last time a student has looked at the WarnMe website a message will be prompted, so that they would have the ability to make sure that the information is correct,” said Frank Wada, University Registrar.
These messages, which began in fall 2008, will not go away until a student looks at their WarnMe information. Students see them either when they register for classes on SISWEB or under the My Classes portal on their MyUCDavis homepage.
If technical difficulties are experienced after the test, one can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to receive help on the issue.
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at email@example.com.