Colleges Revamping Emergency Notification Systems

April 20, 2007

Colleges across the country are revamping their emergency notification systems in the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

Schools are scrambling to avoid what happened at Virginia Tech. Where students waited two hours for the first warning.

"There was a threat on campus and we had no idea. I had no indication something happened in the morning" said a Virginia Tech

But how to inform so many, after the decision is made to do so? When an emergency strikes, students are everywhere.

"I am ok, press 1."

Companies like MIR 3 are adapting technology to notify them online, in class, at home.

"And you can actually hit their land line, their cell phone, SMS, their pager anything they have on them" said Margi Schmidt, MIR 3 Senior Vice President..

All with one keystroke.

"You have selected I'm ok. Your response has been accepted."

At MIR 3's headquarters, a technician inputs our information, but we're miles away when the warning comes through.

"(Ring) hello? Ok, obviously this was not an emergency, but if it had been, it could have told us, don't come back in the building, stay away, anything like that.

"It could have invited you to evacuate a certain area, given you instructions on where to go next" said Schmidt.

Margi Schmidt says, the technology was originally used by local governments and businesses. It warned Florida families before Hurricane Ivan, and informed employees after Katrina.

"You know, should we go to houston? Should we go to some other city to be safe, and set up shop" said Schmidt.

Technicians can input anywhere from a few names to a few million.

"I'm gonna notify 6,000 students of a situation" said Schmidt.

Mir 3 can just send a warning or ask for a response.

"I need help, press 2"

"And I can create another group of those people, and actually give that group off to first responders and say, these are people right away, right now that need help" said Schmidt

And in a situation like Virginia Tech, every student warned is one more out of danger.

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