Eagle Alert receives tech update
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 23:09
The idea for the Eagle Alert Emergency Alert System was born in 2005 after the Virginia Tech shootings, and after much research and hard work, the system was installed and has been fully operational on the University of Southern Mississippi campus since 2009.
Eagle Alert is an emergency alert system comprised of many parts. The program is made up of a text message system, email system, text-to-voice system, building notification and an outside siren system, which is capable of relaying voice messages across campus.
Bob Hopkins, University Police Department chief, said the system is now an opt-out only system.
“Students and faculty will automatically be enrolled in the system,” Hopkins said. “Each student and faculty member will receive an email and text message unless you take it upon yourself to physically opt out of the system via UPD’s website.”
Prior to this semester, the system had been an enrollment only system so this is a new change for Eagle Alert.
The system has not undergone any other major changes since its installation, but it receives upgrades periodically, along with bi-yearly checks on the voice system. The Physical Plant also helps repair the siren system.
Hopkins said UPD and the public relations department at USM compose and issue alerts to the 2,500 faculty and staff and 16,000-plus students enrolled in the system.
Kelly Lott, a junior psychology major from Purvis, said she relies on Eagle Alert to deliver information regarding emergencies and poor weather conditions in the Hattiesburg area.
Lott is one of the many users who receive the updates immediately on her smart-phone.
“I particularly rely on the system for the alerts regarding bad weather, and because of Eagle Alert, I feel safer and more aware of threats to campus,” Lott said.
However, not all Southern Miss students believe Eagle Alert is up to par in timeliness and effectiveness.
Daniel Cook, a junior human resource management major from Wayne County, has strong feelings regarding the system and has opted out of receiving the alerts.
“I do not feel as if Eagle Alert truly aids campus in the way it intends to,” Cook said. “The system does not send information in a timely manner. For example, in the past I have received text messages about possible tornadoes in the area many minutes after I have heard the sirens go off on campus stating that a tornado is undoubtedly in the area.”
According to UPD’s website, the system only delivers messages in times of true emergency and when it is running tests to ensure its functioning properly.
“Eagle Alert gives you an opportunity to make personal decisions about your personal safety,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins feels Eagle Alert is one of the best ways to be a well-informed and safe Southern Miss student or faculty or staff member.
More information can be found on UPD’s website at www.usm.edu/police/eagle-alert. It is highly recommended that UPD is contacted at 601-266-4986 or through the email contact page on the website with concerns.