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Alert-OHIO

The rollout of the new warning system will last several quarters.

OHIO-sirens

Blackboard Connect will be able to send a text message, activate the Athens campus' outdoor sirens, send an emergency email, and update CatVision and the Baker University Center and dining facility monitors.

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OHIO migrates to new emergency warning system

Blackboard Connect will synchronize disaster response


On Sept. 23, Ohio University's Athens campus began implementation of Blackboard Connect, an enhanced emergency notification system. Tested in March, the Blackboard Connect system demonstrated significantly faster delivery times and delivery reliability than the University’s previous system.

"This is just the latest step we're taking in keeping the University community safe and prepared for any situation that may arise," said Joe Adams, associate vice president for risk management and safety.

Those students for whom their cell phone numbers appear in My OHIO Student Center (as a public or private cell phone) or, in the case of employees, have signed up for the previous emergency notification system are automatically enrolled.  In the event of an imminent threat or a campus emergency, Blackboard Connect will be able to send a text message, activate the Athens campus' outdoor sirens, send an emergency email, and update CatVision and the Baker and dining facility monitors.

"You’ll see us adding these capabilities as the quarter progresses," said Adams. "Today we can send a text faster and with greater confidence of its delivery, although that final delivery to a user’s cell phone still rests in the hands of the cell phone service providers. We’ll be adding email, a link to our sirens, and other capabilities as the quarter goes on."

Adams went on to say that while the University’s previous system sent the message to users’ phones as an email that was then converted to a text—and therefore often slowed by the cell phone providers’ filters—Blackboard Connect simply sends a text.

"So as long as the cell phone towers are up, we can have a great deal of confidence in the new system," he said.

The rollout of the new warning system will last several quarters.

"We expect to refine our opt-in and opt-out capabilities next quarter," said Adams, "then add in the ability to have parents and others opt-in, and add other features."

In the event of an emergency, students, faculty and staff will receive a text message from OHIO Alert with emergency information. Normal text messaging rates will apply.

The University selected Blackboard Connect from a field of 12 candidates. Blackboard Connect is recognized as a leader in the field and has won numerous awards for their services.

The service is currently only set up for the Athens campus, but could be expanded to other OHIO campuses in the future.