Campus security warnings could come in an instant, if you download an app.
Hillsdale College Campus Security has added a new element to its mass notification system with the addition of the Alertus mobile application. Using the app, campus security can send out a mass alert to notify students of emergency situations like severe weather or an active shooter.
“Weather is probably our most challenging adversary,” said Bill Whorley, director of campus security.
The average emergency situation lasts seven minutes, according to Whorley. It takes 22 minutes to alert all of campus using Blackboard.
The extended time it takes to alert campus of an emergency situation can cause logistical problems. A school lockdown in 2017 caused mass confusion, as some students were alerted of the lockdown before others.
Senior Adam Cieply, a member of the security team, said he was present in Grewcock Student Union during the lockdown, although he was not working at the time. Cieply said that because only some students received the notification, some students did not believe the school was on lockdown.
This new system is not a result of the lockdown, according to Whorley.
“My sense is security wanted another arrow in their quiver, to communicate with campus,” said Aaron Petersen, Dean of Men.
The Hillsdale Alertus currently has six presets, although Whorley said he hopes there will be more added soon. The notification system can also link into the fire alarm and door key systems on campus, as well as flash a wall-mounted beacon in Biermann Sports Center. The app also has a location tracking service available, although Whorley said this would only alert official emergency personnel.
Alertus also has a unique feature.
“They’re one of the few emergency notification systems that can break a password,” Whorley said. This means that Alertus could push an alert through the computer, even if no one is currently logged into it.
But the system only works if the recipient also has the Alertus app downloaded.
“If you could convince the whole campus to download it, it would be an incredible aid,” Cieply said.