Campus Connected Thanks To Text Alerts

One text alert might save your life

By Maria Grant and Chad Fujihara

In an emergency, campus security mobilizes while an urgent message is typed and sent to cell phones across campus. Information can be the most powerful tool in a time of crisis.

The official UH Alert is a notification system that aids the university community in the event of a natural, health, civil or other emergency that impacts the health and safety of the UH community. Students can choose between email, phone calls, or text alerts. Currently, 13 percent of students and 45 percent of staff are signed onto the text alert system. Administration is eager to increase subscription to the service.

“I would tell any student who hasn’t already signed up for emergency text messaging: do it. And do it now.” said Gregg Takayama, UH Campus director of Community and Government Affairs. “Do it by going to the UH Manoa web page, click on emergency website, and do so.”

Some students who have signed onto the text alert system are concerned that they are not being notified of emergency situations on campus. The technology behind the system might be the cause.

“The technology is pretty straight-forward, but the system is really not constructed to do…reach everybody in a very, very short period of time. It works in most cases, but it’s not something any of the carriers can guarantee.” said Garret Yoshimi, director of Information Technology Services. ITS provides troubleshooting for the members of administration that are enabled to send out the mass text messages, though the actual program and service is outsourced to a mainland company.

According to Takayama the truth of the matter is actually simple and straightforward: there have not been any emergency notifications sent out.

"An emergency text message would be sent if...there is an immediate serious threat to safety on campus. So far the system has not been used for an actual emergency."

Regardless of whether messages are being sent out, some students are apprehensive to receive alerts.

“I kind of don’t want my inbox to be flooded with junk mail.” student Mary Villoso said.

Even without messaging plans, others still go through and sign on to receive alerts.

“I pay fifteen cents for every text message, but I feel the money I pay is definitely worth the safety.” said UH student Henry Cheng.


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