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New campus alert system debuts

The Bulldog Alert system, a new method of emergency notifications, was tested on Sept. 24 in an effort to ensure students are able to receive emergency alert messages in case an immediate threat arises on or near campus.

Amy Luna, manager of emergency operations and business continuity, said the campus has reviewed different text alert programs over the years to try and find one that would work.

“We finally identified one that we thought would be successful for our campus that we had seen tested by other universities and look successful something that was compatible with PeopleSoft,” Luna said.

PeopleSoft is the computer system that has student information from phone numbers to grades. This allows the Bulldog Alert tool to pull information from the student portal to add them to the system.

Luna said the Bulldog Alert was purchased last year.

“We didn’t want to have a separate system that wasn’t compatible,” Luna said. “We wanted to make it convenient for students, and we know that text alerts are very common.”

The test, which proved successful, was carried out to make sure that students’ contact information was correct and to make sure they received the alert message.

Students were asked to confirm if their cellphone number was correct at the time of registration. Luna said that even if students did not confirm their numbers, the system still pulled the number they had on file to send the message to.

“We’d rather send it to an old number than no number at all, or just because they didn’t confirm, it doesn’t mean that it’s not right, so we want to make sure that they get the message in an emergency.”

Luna said 22,000 student phone numbers were in the system when the message was sent out.

Luna said that when the message was sent out, there were a variety of received times.

“The message was sent out at 2 p.m., and we had some people receive the message as quick as 2:01 and some at 2:16,” she said.

Luna added that the received times are something that is out of their control, since the system immediately pushes the message out to cellphone providers. If the cellphone providers are overloaded in any way then there can be a delay in getting the message.

She added that it wasn’t expected to have the same number of students who signed up match those who are enrolled at Fresno State because there are some students who don’t have cellphones.

Luna clarified that the notifications sent out do not prevent anything from happening but they give students the information to allow them to make quick decisions in case of an emergency.

That is why Fresno State does not rely only on a single method of emergency notifications. Aside from the Bulldog Alert, there are indoor and outdoor notifications which are directive.

“They’re going to tell you what to do, and so what we’re expecting is to tell you what to do and you’re going to act on that information immediately so that you can get away from a dangerous situation or avoid being a part of it,” said Luna.