Lehigh University
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Lehigh announces new text-messaging and emergency preparedness Web site

Lehigh University has implemented a new text-messaging service that will enable students, faculty, and staff to receive text alerts in the event of an emergency. The new service, called LU-ALERT, will be administered through an external provider, e2Campus, and joins a number of safety initiatives already in place to safeguard the campus community, according to Alice P. Gast, president of Lehigh University.

“Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of the Lehigh campus community,” says Gast. “Over the course of the past year, we have reviewed our procedures regarding safety issues, drawn together a panel of experts, and put in place a comprehensive plan and process for responding to a number of emergency situations.”

Gast notes that the plan maximizes the latest developments in technology and incorporates a realistic assessment of the students’ preferred methods of communication, which involves a combination of electronic and personal contacts.

The new system will permit Lehigh administrators, in the event of an emergency, to send a short text message to all those who have subscribed to the new service through a simple, brief procedure. The text messages will only be sent out in cases of imminent danger, or when an emergency situation will impact a significant number of people.

This system, which is a refinement of an earlier system that was introduced this past spring, offers Lehigh an expanded host of options for contacting individuals in an emergency situation.

All members of the campus community are encouraged to register their contact information by going to http://www.lehigh.edu/lu-alert and then following the instructions for registration.

Cell phone numbers collected through this process will be stored in a secure database and will only be used in the event of an emergency, Gast says.

Members of the Lehigh community will also be able to access comprehensive information regarding an emergency through a new Emergency Preparedness Web site at http://www.lehigh.edu/emergency, which will continue to be developed in the coming weeks.

The text-messaging service joins a variety of security measures that are already in place throughout campus, including a 24-hour locked door policy, access cards for entry into residence halls, exterior emergency phones throughout campus, security screens, well-lit walkways, and a safety escort service and bus service among residence halls and academic buildings from dusk until dawn. These measures will be combined with face-to-face communications through existing networks.

The existing emergency services are implemented through the campus police department, which is fully trained and certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Gast adds.

But, she cautions, technology alone is not a panacea, and cannot address all the issues involved in potential unsafe circumstances and conditions.

“Safety is a shared responsibility,” Gast says. “We are committed to preparing ourselves for potential emergencies through use of the most advanced and reliable technology, through capable staffing and training, and through educational efforts. We strongly encourage everyone to play in active role in campus emergency preparedness by keeping up with our web and email updates and by registering for LU-ALERT as soon as possible.”

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007

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