The cost of a stamp went from 39 cents to 41 cents this week. But the bigger news this past year is that e-mail is increasingly becoming the new “snail mail.”
We are seeing this more and more in our crisis communication strategy at RIT. The use of e-mail became even more glaring with the Virginia Tech tragedy.
RIT uses a layered approach to reach the campus community for emergency notifications. These can range from required crime alerts to school closings or class cancellations. Each situation will dictate the nature and method for releasing communications from University News Services. University News takes many steps to alert the RIT community.
Quite frankly, RIT’s methods of communications were very similar to Virginia Tech’s the day of the massacre. You may recall, VT took some heat in the way it alerted the campus to the shootings.
Even before the shooting rampage, both RIT and VT were in discussions with vendors regarding new methods of communication. This includes the use of text messaging via cell phones. Cell phones are the new “Town Crier” and among the best way to reach colleges students on their “Main Street.”
And many vendors are trying to get RIT on board with text messaging services.
The devil is always in the details as RIT works to figure an assortment of issues including how to manage cell phone numbers in a transient population and who would pay for the text messaging.
One thing is certain: RIT is ramping up its rapid emergency response. During a crisis, we are looking at communication in phases. For example, what would be the best way to communicate with the campus community in 0 to 5 minutes, 6 to 60 minutes, 60 minutes and beyond? The RIT Critical Incident Management Planning team is currently reviewing many options. Along with cell phones, we are looking at public address systems, sirens, the use of Facebook and a wireless alert notification system that would feature sirens, strobes and text display in strategic areas around campus.
The goal is to have many of these new forms of communication in place this summer, ready for the start of the new academic year. We will keep you posted as we progress.
I welcome any feedback and ideas to help the cause.