UT to Use Text Messaging For Emergency Student Contact
KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee soon will be able to utilize text messaging as a form of communication with students, faculty and staff.
The university has contracted this week with e2campus, a mass notification and text messaging firm to make the service available to all faculty, staff and students on the Knoxville campus beginning this fall.
“Text messaging is a fast, efficient and simple way to communicate with our campus community,” said UT Knoxville Chancellor Loren Crabtree. “It is critical that we have in place many avenues to communicate with our faculty, students and staff and this technology adds yet another mechanism to do so.”
Members of the campus community will have the opportunity to “opt in” to the system. The messages generated by the system can be sent to cell phones, PDAs, e-mail addresses or pagers. No one will receive messages from UT that are unsolicited. The secure system will be used only to deliver critical messages in the event of an emergency.
The system will not deliver advertising content, and no cost is passed on to those who participate, other than any fees charged by their phone provider for text messaging services. Since the system relies on text messaging, it will function effectively even when cell traffic increases during an emergency.
“In an emergency, we have to seek as many efficient means of communication with the campus as possible,” said UT Chief of Police August Washington. “In the most difficult situations, many forms of timely notification can save lives.”
Alerts can be sent over the system almost instantly, allowing for even faster communication in the event of an emergency, without requiring recipients to be in front of a computer to check e-mail. The e2campus program represents one of many ways that UT can communicate with the campus during an emergency. The university can also utilize blast e-mails, posting fliers throughout campus, web posting, campus-wide simultaneous voicemails, residence hall public address systems and police loudspeakers.
Information on how to sign up for the program will be made available to members of the campus community over the coming months as the system is put in place.
UT’s contract with e2campus will allow up to 35,000 subscribers, which will accommodate all Knoxville area students, faculty and staff. The annual cost for the service is about $24,000.
Safety information for members of the UT campus community is available at http://pr.utk.edu/safety.
Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409, firstname.lastname@example.org)