Students and staff of TRU can now sign up to receive instant notifications regarding safety issues on and around campus.
TRU President Alan Shaver and TRU manager of occupational health & safety Stacey Jyrkkanen have been discussing emergency management for some time. Shaver came from Dalhousie University in Halifax where they have many winter storms and that can close down schools, so, according to Jyrkkanen, when he came here he wanted to know what kind of plan TRU had in place in case of a situation where they needed to notify people of an emergency and started the ball rolling on this initiative.
The system is installed on all desktop computers on campus that are attached to the network, including every classroom that has a “smartboard.”
“Aspect number two is the more mobile part,” said Jyrkkanen. “Texts, voicemail, email, TRU’s Facebook site and Twitter accounts, that’s the other aspect of it.”
Unlike the on-campus network notifications, the mobile aspect of the system requires students and faculty to sign up for the notifications.
If you’re worried about getting spammed with notifications that you don’t care about, Jyrkkanen said there’s no need.
“They’d only come out in an emergency, and I don’t mean ‘IT [Information Technology] is going to be shutting down on such and such a day,’ or ‘we’re going to have a planned campus-wide power outage.’”
The system is designed to warn people of safety issues such as dangerous goods spills, bomb threats and gun-wielding maniacs; these are extremely rare occurrences, but as Jyrkkanen points out, “It’s like life insurance. You pay for it, you hope you never have to use it, but at least if something happens, you’ve got a plan.”
The information being sent out through the system would be what the problem is, where the problem is and what you should do (or not do).
“There’s nothing worse than knowing there’s a problem but not knowing what to do,” said Jyrkkanen, which is why the messages will be very specific.
Updates would be provided to the website linked to the notification so people can stay apprised of the situation, and a follow-up notification would go out resolving the issue for people. You wouldn’t receive continuous updates via text, etc.
524 people were signed up at the time of the first test of the system on May 2 (it was an actual test, not an actual emergency).
You can increase that number and place yourself in a position to know about emergencies when you’ll need to by going to www.tru.ca/alerts and signing up to receive the notifications.