Message Concerning RIT Alert Response
March 17, 2010
by Bob Finnerty
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In response to Wednesday morning’s emergency incident, several issues have been raised about RIT crisis communications. Many questions relate to RIT Alert, the university’s rapid emergency mass notification system. In the spirit of open communication and continuous improvement, we’ve developed the following FAQ:
Q: What is RIT Alert?
A: RIT Alert is the university’s rapid emergency-mass-notification system. It is the first component of the overall crisis-communication strategy at RIT. RIT Alert is designed to give the RIT community an initial message that an incident is happening on campus. The purpose of the alert is to heighten awareness for your personal safety and to provide initial instructions.
Q: How do I receive the Alert?
A: RIT Alert sends urgent messages via instant message or text message to mobile devices, voice message and e-mail (RIT official mail only). Individual students, faculty or staff members must add or update their own information using SIS or Oracle. For instructions on how to do this, go to http://finweb.rit.edu/buscont/massnotification.html or contact email@example.com. We urge you to sign up if you have not done so already. Participation in RIT Alert is voluntary. If a student, faculty or staff member does not wish to participate, they may opt out.
Q: How did RIT get my information?
A: Contact information for RIT Alert is taken directly from information provided by students, staff and faculty in existing systems. It is the responsibility of students, faculty and staff to make sure information is accurate and up to date. We urge all students, faculty and staff to take advantage of the system. It is imperative that your contact information is accurate and up to date in order for you to receive emergency notifications.
Q: Why did I keep receiving duplicate messages on Wednesday morning?
A: There are reports of some individuals receiving duplicate messages. We are working with the notification system vendor to avoid duplications in the future.
Q: The All Clear Message directed me to go to the RIT Web site. Why was there no immediate information on the Web site after the alert?
A: We wanted to give the All Clear Message as soon as we could to reassure the campus community. In the meantime, RIT staff worked diligently to post accurate information to the Web site with more details. We apologize for the delay and will work to improve that response time.
Q: Why did my parents receive the message?
A: The home phone number students provide in SIS is used for RIT Alert.
Q: Why did faculty and staff receive the alert at home when the incident was on campus?
A: Given the seriousness of the incident, it was determined that alerting the entire RIT community was most prudent. Lack of communication is unacceptable.
Q: What is RIT doing to improve the system?
A: First, we thank the many of you for your constructive feedback. In the two years since its inception, RIT Alert has been used twice for real emergencies. It is tested on a quarterly basis. From this recent incident, we will address the following issues:
• Contact cycles will be reduced so that only one message of each type is sent.
• Using home telephone numbers as part of the notification will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If the situation does not warrant a notification to home telephone numbers, it will not be used.
• Work to post information on the RIT Web site more quickly and update it often, when necessary.
• Asking students, faculty and staff to keep their contact information current by visiting http://finweb.rit.edu/buscont/massnotification.html.
Q: Besides RIT Alert, what other methods of communication does the university employ?
A: RIT uses a layered approach to reach the campus community in notifying about emergency situations. Each situation will dictate the nature and method for releasing communications. Methods to communicate include both internal channels (including social media) and external channels (mass media). To learn more about RIT emergency information, including communication methods, visit www.emergency.rit.edu.
Please send further feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chief Communications Officer