Following is a report on the results and responsive actions taken following an annual test of Miami University’s Emergency Alert System at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29. Representatives of the Institutional Response Team (IRT) sent test messages via the following methods:
• e2Campus, Miami’s Emergency Text Messaging System, with e-mail option
• An all-Miami e-mail
• The Miami University home page and MyMiami portal
• The voice and display-based emergency notification feature of the VoIP telephones.
• The digital signage in the Farmer School of Business, Hoyt Hall, on the regional campuses and VOA.
• MUTV channel 42
Alerts were sent from the Hamilton Campus and an off-campus location in order to gauge our ability to send alerts from outside the Oxford campus and from multiple locations. Use of these sites proved as successful as previous on-campus tests.
About 32 percent of recipients responded to a survey sent to a random list of 5,000 staff, faculty and students. More than 70 percent of survey responders said they had received at least one alert by 1:33 p.m. This number jumps to 82 percent by 1:35 p.m. About 14 percent reported to have received their first alert after 1:40 p.m. This can be attributed to many factors, including but not limited to: a phone that is not on at the time of the test, poor cell phone reception, not being near a computer or phone during the test.
E-mails reached 93 percent of people, with most of the other 7 percent not having checked junk filters or being away from their computers. The message was displayed on the myMiami portal, but not on the Miami home page. A subsequent test proved positive. Of those who were in a building on campus, more than 45 percent reported to have heard or seen an alert via VoIP on a campus phone.
Twenty percent of those who did not receive the text alert thought they were registered to receive text alerts. By enabling users to log in and check the status of their accounts with e2Campus and including an opportunity in the survey for respondents to leave their uniqueIDs in order to be contacted, the IRT group was able to determine that over half of these users had expired accounts or did not have an e2Campus account. Digital signs displayed the test message for 10 minutes and just over 6 percent of responders reported to have seen those messages. Fewer than 1 percent of the survey responders stated that they had seen the alert on MUTV Channel 42.
A total of 11,806 text message alerts were sent to subscribers. Overall, delivery was successful. But, at approximately 1:35 p.m., it was realized that many Cincinnati Bell Wireless (CBW) customers were not receiving the text alerts. A support ticket was immediately opened with Omnilert (e2Campus’ parent company) to address this issue. CBW staff investigated over the following weeks and notified Miami that the issue was rectified. Their response involved fixing a routing error in relation to a shortcode traffic aggregator.
We learned soon after that the repair was not successful: Due to severe weather, the university issued several text message alerts on Tuesday, Oct. 26, and discovered some CBW subscribers still were not receiving text alerts. The university again contacted CBW to rectify the delivery of text messages. Because of the continued problems with CBW subscribers, the Institutional Response Team (IRT) conducted a small-scale test of CBW users Tuesday, Nov. 16. CBW subscribers were sent a follow-up survey, results of which showed that CBW subscribers did indeed receive the Nov. 16 test alert.
The IRT plans to review processes to smooth the registration process for text alerts and to update the firewall to add the potential for initiating all types of alerts from off campus, among other enhancements. Also, since different systems operate digital signs in various buildings on campus (e.g. signs at King and Shriver are different from FSB and the regional campuses), it may be worth discussing a unified digital signage system. A test is planned again for fall 2011.