Just in Time, the Importance of Mass Notification

Students are taught to use their time wisely, and campuses can do the same by improving their system of mass notification.

Though, we try to prevent crisis situations from occurring on campuses and take precautions for prevention, sometimes dangerous situations happen. In these cases, we must be prepared. Mass notification must be sent in a timely manner to an entire campus so those not yet affected can prepare and protect themselves. The irreplaceable benefits of a mass notification system are why nearly 75 percent of campuses have recently bought or will soon buy a mass notification solution. Communicating to a large amount of people in the least amount of time can, however, pose the largest of challenges.

Think back to the Virginia Tech shooting of 2007. Resulting in 32 deaths and 23 non-fatal injuries, could these have been prevented? Campus officials have been criticized for acting too slowly in taking actions against the horrific on-goings. In this case, too slowly was a matter of five short minutes. Not only did it take too long for public officials to take action, but the university waited two hours to inform students by email about the first shooting, and half an hour later by email again for students to “Please stay put.” Two hours passed before there was an official release, at this point not only are their students in panic, but students were unaware and confused about what happened. Virginia Tech is not the only campus-based instance where time has been of the essence, the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 experienced much longer than a five-minute delay, 40 long minutes passed before the appropriate officials were able to take action. Imagine how these numbers could be different if students, faculty and public officials were all notified with one push of a button.

Shootings on school campuses are not the only events that students, visitors and staff should be notified about. A chemical spill in a science laboratory affects the whole campus, not just the room it happened in. In the Fall of 2016, Saint Xavier University experienced a spill of a half gallon of hydrochloric acid. Getting a chemical spill cleaned quickly is necessary to avoid health hazards. An individual’s health can largely be affected in this instance, not only the students in the laboratory but everyone in that building can be exposed to said chemicals. Students need to know as soon as an incident occurs to evacuate, and responders should be alerted in the same time so the building can be taken care of in the necessary manner.

The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 requires all postsecondary institutions to make “timely warnings to the campus community regarding crimes that pose an ongoing threat to students and employees.” Public safety officials have a moral and ethical obligation to provide the safest environment possible for students and employees. Complying with government regulations and utilizing the features of an app like Punch Alert allows campus security to be as seamless and efficient as ever.

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