Alert system helps students, employees remain informed

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Students, staff and faculty will automatically receive messages from JCCC Alert, a mobile safety company offering emergency notification, through text messages and email messages, in the event of a college emergency. All JCCC Alert accounts are easily accessed through the MyJCCC portal. Photo illustration by Kenna Swihart, The Campus Ledger

Kim Harms

News editor

kharms3@jccc.edu

Students and college employees received an email last Friday alerting them of a robbery that happened on campus. The alerts are not only sent during active emergencies, they’re also used for awareness of crimes that have already occurred.

The alert from last Friday was only sent to employee and student email accounts and was not sent through text message or posted on the college’s website. Chris Gray, executive director of marketing communications, said the severity of the incident helps determine when and where to send an alert.

“There wasn’t, what we call, a timely warning,” Gray said. “[The robbery] wasn’t anything where there is an immediate threat. The police were able to quickly get with the individual who was robbed and they saw that the [suspect] did leave since they had them on camera. Within 10 minutes, we knew what happened and didn’t perceive an immediate threat to anyone on campus. That’s why we used RAVE to push the message out via email to employees and students.”

There are several questions that determine the decision of which notification system to activate. Alisa Pacer, emergency preparedness manager, said the decision depends on if the alert involves a crime or an emergency like severe weather, as well as if the incident occurred during business hours or after hours.

“If it’s an emergency notification and it’s very severe weather like a tornado warning, we would activate all of our notification systems,” Pacer said. “That would be our public address system, the desktop alerts, our digital signs and we can push out information to every campus phone. If we’re delaying classes or things that wouldn’t be just momentarily, we would update the webpage.”

One additional way for students and employees to receive alerts is through the JCCC Guardian mobile app. Those who register and download the app will benefit from an additional outlet for receiving alerts and a simple option to immediately report any crimes or emergencies they notice on campus.

“The college has a webpage dedicated to Guardian, which tells all of the in’s and outs of the app itself and how to download it from the app store,” Pacer said. “We can push out alerts via the Guardian app, and that would typically be an emergency notification. There are different categories of alerts that we would send and different methods we would use to send them depending on what the situation is.”

The notification system is tested often, however, the system may still experience a few glitches at times. If a student or employee noticed they did not receive an email alert, Gray recommends checking their junk and spam email folders.

“The beauty of RAVE is, it really allows [the college] to be held accountable so we can go in and look to make sure everyone received the alert,” Gray said. “We get notices if the alert was sent to 15,000 people when it was supposed to go to 20,000 people so we’re able to understand what happened really quick and we’re able to get it out but sometimes with email it could go into clutter or junk in that regard.”

For those who did receive the alert, there was some confusion and concern regarding the time between the robbery and when the alert was sent. Gray said the low severity of the crime and no possible threat to anyone on campus contributed to the extended period of time before the alert was sent.

“It was a really minor situation and we didn’t perceive a threat so that’s why there was that lag time,” Gray said. “If we thought that the person might be on campus still, that triggers a timely warning. Based on the severity of the issue, that determines how quick [the police] will contact us to send a notice. In this instance, they were tracking the individual, they knew what was going on and we wanted to make people aware after the fact from that standpoint.”

The Guardian app can be downloaded from the Apple App store or the Google Play store. To report any crimes or emergencies on campus, call 913-469-2500.

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