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OHIO Safe and Secure: CIRT upgrades facility to enhance responsiveness

Having the proper tools at hand during a critical incident can be crucial to the success of communicating with the Ohio University community during an emergency. With this in mind, leaders of the University's Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) initiated upgrades to the room where team members gather to coordinate the University's response to a given incident, said Jill Harris, emergency programs manager in the Division of Risk Management and Safety.

"After CIRT activations, we perform an after-action analysis to assess how the situation was handled and how we can improve our operations," Harris said. "After a few incidents on campus, we realized that our room did not meet our needs, so we made the upgrades to better incorporate technology in our response procedures."

These upgrades include:

  • a Smart Board, which allows team members to interactively use maps and work on documents collaboratively

  • updated WiFi, which was also fulfilled part of a campus-wide upgrade initiative

  • improved connectivity with ports in the conference table that allow team members to hardwire their laptops or mobile devices, as well as help them conserve battery life

The room is already equipped with basic tools such as a projectable wall, a dry erase board and maps of the Athens Campus and city of Athens. Harris says in the event of a critical incident, it's important to remember that CIRT is working as quickly as possible to provide accurate information about the situation.

"Situations are dynamic and we want to make sure we have the right tools in place to get the right message out," Harris said.

Information is posted on OHIO's Alert page. CIRT's primary means of reaching out directly to the University community is through a software program which sends e-mails and text messages to thousands of registered University inboxes and cell phones all at one time. But that program, Harris points out, is reliant on people keeping their contact information up-to-date on the University's "My Personal Information" page. Even with this technology, she says, sometimes word-of-mouth can be the quickest way to get information out.

"It's important to remember to communicate with one another during a critical incident," Harris said. If you receive a text message or email, but your colleague or classmate doesn't, share the information you have, she says. "That's part of being in the OHIO community. We know we can't reach certain populations during some times of the day, like a teacher engaged in teaching class or a student who isn't on their e-mail. Sharing information when you have it is an important step in keeping everyone informed."

Although these upgrades are now in place, CIRT is always evaluating how they can better serve the University community. The team is looking into using pop-up dialog boxes on campus computers to also share important details in a critical incident in the future.


Updating your information

Double-checking that your contact information is correct and up-to-date in the University's emergency notification system can help you feel confident you'll receive important alerts during a critical incident. This also allows people to find your information using the University directory function of ohio.edu.

To update or change your information, you can locate the appropriate page for faculty/staff or students at www.ohio.edu/riskandsafety/emergencyprograms/notification_system.

FOR FACULTY/STAFF: Use your OHIO ID and password to log in to the system. From there, you'll select the "My Personal Information" folder and then update the information in either the "Personal Information" subfolder or the "Other Miscellaneous Information" subfolder. The "Update" buttons for each section will allow you to edit your information.

FOR STUDENTS: Sign in to My Ohio using your OHIO ID and password. Click on the "Academics" tab. Sign in to "My OHIO Student Center." In the "Personal Information" section, your contact information will be displayed and will be available for updates. From the drop down "Other Personal" menu, select "Phone Numbers." Enter or confirm your cell phone number and that it is the proper phone type.