Ohio University will conduct a routine test of its emergency text messaging system Wednesday, May 7. All faculty, staff and students who are signed up for emergency text messaging by at 8 p.m. Monday, May 5, will be included in the test.
"If you haven't yet subscribed to emergency text messaging, now is the time," said David Hopka, associate vice president for safety and risk management. "It's easy to do and could provide valuable information if this campus ever has to use the technology."
To sign up for the messaging service, or to make certain your information is current, go to the online registration form.
A day before the test, everyone currently registered will receive an instructional e-mail outlining what to expect and how to respond. The Office of Information Technology will analyze preliminary results after the test and do a more in-depth analysis by the end of the quarter.
Text messaging has been heralded as a way to inform campus members quickly if an incident develops and cellular service is intact. But Hopka and OIT want to test the Athens campus system periodically to make certain it lives up to its promise.
"I see campuses saying they tested their system and the message went out to everyone in X minutes. That's all well and good, but we believe the more important pieces of information are 'How many people received the message, and when?'" Hopka said.
The first time OIT tested Ohio University's emergency text messaging system, the results were good, but a small percentage of messages failed to make it to their destinations. The key contributor to those failures, which surfaced in the analysis, was that some individuals' information was incorrect or incomplete.
"With cellular companies merging and remerging, for instance, some people quite understandably listed the wrong service provider," Hopka said.
That led OIT to improve the sign-up site so that it could send an immediate confirmation to registrants, and Hopka believes that simple change will improve the success rate. He wants to test that assumption now and believes it's prudent to do periodic tests as the number of registrants grows.
"We have more than 4,200 people registered now. I hope that will double or triple, and when it does, I want to be sure the cellular infrastructure and our own technology can handle it," he said. "So we'll keep doing periodic testing."
-- Sally Linder