New BU Alert System Includes App for Faster Emergency Communications | UB today

Three questions for Rene Fielding, director of emergency management at the University

The University has a new BU Alert, the SMS/mobile phone/email advice system for on-campus emergencies, with a new app. The app will enable faster and more accessible communications for students, faculty and staff.

Introduced in May and released this month – the start of the academic year and federal designation National Preparedness Month— The new system replaces decade-old technology that had several weaknesses, according to BU emergency managers. These flaws included outdated information for some recipients of University emergency alerts, the inability to send consecutive messages in a timely manner, and crummy manual processes.

BU Alert sends messages during active campus threats, facility weather shutdowns, utility outages, and other disruptive and emerging events.

UB today asked Rene Fielding, Director of Emergency Management at the University, to explain the changes to us.

Q&A

with Rene Fielding

UB today: Simply put, what is the new system? Will BU affiliates experience alerts differently than they have in the past?

Fielding: The new system allows for a few new features that we didn’t have before. First, we have the ability to send push notifications [clickable pop-up messages that appear regardless of the device or browser being used] to students, staff and faculty who download [Alert] application. This allows another mode of communication in an emergency.

Second, the system has been configured to be much easier for the message sender to select a message and send it. This allows for faster communication and greater consistency in message and language. Third, we were able to customize the templates to look and feel like BU posts.


The system has been configured to be much easier for the message sender to select a message and send it. This allows for faster communication and greater consistency in message and language.

René Fielding, Director of Emergency Management

UB today: How will this improve campus safety?

We have a new system, not an update [of the old one]. The new system allows us to communicate faster with our entire community with additional modalities, in the form of the application.

UB today: The new system was actually implemented in May. Do students, faculty and staff need to update their contact details for the new system, either in BUworks or in the Student Information System?

Yes, the system went live in May and June after many students left for the summer. We wanted to wait to promote the new system until everyone came back for the fall, and ask them to update their contact information and download the app if they wanted to receive push notifications.

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