Ann Pickren, President, OnSolve
With the 2019-2020 school year underway, college and university decision-makers are focused not only on fostering a productive learning environment, but also keeping students, faculty and staff safe amidst an increasingly complex threat landscape.
Critical to campus safety is keeping all stakeholders informed with quick and accurate information on potential and real-time critical events, ranging from active shooters and severe weather to cybersecurity breaches and campus protests.
An Emergency Mass Notification System (EMNS) can only be as successful as its ability to reach and engage with as many stakeholders as possible — and the biggest obstacle to make that happen is ensuring contact databases are accurate and students and faculty sign up to receive the alerts.
EMNS registration is not a challenge exclusive to colleges and universities. State and local public safety, law enforcement and government agencies have long struggled to improve alert system opt-in rates for residents. Yet even today, only a fraction of community residents who can register to properly receive alerts typically do so, in turn hindering emergency management efforts.
While emergency alerts are “pushed” to target audiences, the reality is that campuses first need to “pull” students to the systems via simplified registration, effective communication of the value proposition and frequent updating of contact information.
Colleges and universities must devote more resources and strategy to branding their EMNS in a way that drives registration and engagement — and do so in a way that doesn’t shift a heavy burden to the students themselves.