New desktop warning system aids campus emergency preparedness
TUPD can now send alerts to most computer screens
TOWSON, Md. (July 15, 2009)—The TU Police Department has partnered with OTS to install a desktop warning system that will aid in emergency preparedness on campus.The warning system enables the police to send messages to the forefront of campus computer screens during an emergency, adding another layer of notification to the university’s emergency response matrix.
“We will use it in conjunction with emergency text alerts, the interior and exterior sirens, and all-campus e-mails,” says Police Chief Bernard Gerst. “It’s a great addition to our response matrix because it has the capability of reaching individuals who haven’t signed up for text alerts or who don’t have their cell phones handy during the day.”
Warning messages will appear on campus desktops in the case of a school closing, tornado, emergency evacuation, serious criminal activity, missing child, or shelter-in-place scenario. Once the message is posted by the communications center, it is transmitted to campus computers instantaneously, allowing it to quickly and effectively communicate with a significant portion of the campus community.
“The message will appear on top of the other applications running on the computer—even on top of a screen saver—no matter if you’re logged in or not,” says Tom Alcide, OTS collaboration services manager, who assisted in the system implementation. “The only time it will not display is if the computer is in sleep mode or turned off.”
The system was rolled out this week to all OTS-managed campus computers that run Windows XP/Vista. However, some campus computers with nonstandard configurations will not receive the warning messages. Departmental technology support staff should contact the Help Center if they are concerned about whether their department’s computers can accommodate the system.