UI Seeks to Improve Emergency Alerts

July 22, 2011

The University of Illinois is trying to fix some kinks in its emergency alert system before students return for the fall semester.

Over the last couple of days, the U of I has sent out test alerts to cell phones and e-mail addresses. University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said e-mail alerts are taking longer to arrive because of spam filters getting in the way of those messages, and a lack of connections to accommodate all of the recipients quickly enough.

"We have to find what these glitches are in the system before the school year starts," Kaler said. "We can try some things without having anybody in a situation where we got a campus full of students and we need the system to be completely functioning."

In the latest test Friday afternoon, Kaler said it took about twenty minutes for 45 percent of the university to receive an e-mail alert. However, she said text message alerts appear to be working without any problems. Of the 24,610 cell phone numbers that participated in a test on Thursday, 24,010 phones received the message.

"That's very exciting for us because obviously for a lot of people these days, that is their preferred method of receiving information," she said.

Kaler said more tests are needed to increase the time it takes for these messages to get to people's e-mails. She said the goal is to get all alerts reaching just about everyone at the university within six minutes.

For more information about signing up for the emergency alerts, visit emergency.illinois.edu.

Story source: WILL