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mass notification

Nixle’s notification system aids in search for missing kids nationwide

Partnership fuels National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s efforts

PHILADELPHIA—Public safety notification provider Nixle has helped the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children provide support to law enforcement in 88 missing children cases nationwide, cases that NCMEC might not have known about as quickly—or at all—without the system.

Cooper Notification offers connectivity to FEMA


LONG BRANCH, N.J.–Customers of Cooper Notification, a supplier of life safety and mass notification system solutions, now can send alerts from their Roam Secure Alert Network directly to FEMA’s Commercial Mobile Alert System [CMAS] and the next-gen Emergency Alert System.

UMass deploys new mass notification system


BOSTON—The University of Massachusetts is deploying a new mass notification system this week at its campuses in Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and at its president's office.

Cooper Notification opens new technology center and training institute


SARASOTA, Fla.—Cooper Notification recently announced the opening of its new Technology and Customer Solutions Center and Training Institute here.

Virginia Tech fined for mass notification debacle during massacre

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Virginia Tech shootings that claimed the lives of 32 people on April 16, 2007 when a mentally ill student, Seung Hui Cho, opened fire on campus, has often been cited as the impetus for the wide-spread adoption of mass notification at schools around the country. Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that Virginia Tech has been fined $55,000 for violating campus safety laws and failing to provide timely warnings to students and staff.

But some people don't think that fine is substantial enough:
“Virginia Tech’s violations warrant a fine far in excess of what is currently permissible under the statute,” wrote Mary E. Gust, an official in the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid.

Here's how the response happened:
At issue is what the university should have done after two students — Cho’s first victims — were discovered fatally shot in the West Ambler Johnston dormitory. Gust’s letter indicated that the first Virginia Tech police officers arrived at the scene about 7:24 a.m. and that Steger was aware of the incident by 8:11 a.m.

The university waited until 9:26 a.m. to issue a campuswide e-mail alert about the shootings. The alert, according to Gust, did not mention that there had been a killing on campus and did not direct the community to take any safety measures.

Soon afterward, Cho started killing teachers and other students in Norris Hall, an academic building.

I have to agree that $55,000 is really piddly (not even close to a student's four-year tuition, I might note) and particularly low especially considering that also in 2007, Eastern Michigan University was fined $357,500 after officials mishandled communications following a campus homicide, according to the article.

But then again, hasn't this school suffered enough? It's been an unfortunately lesson for security practitioners around the world about the importance of having a strong mass notification system in place, one that provides students with timely and accurate information. What do you think? Should Virginia Tech have to pay more?

Retrofitting the Burlington International Airport


COLCHESTER, Vt.—Good customer service has not only given Safety Systems of Vermont steady growth since it started eight years ago, but led to a quarter-million-dollar project retrofitting the Burlington International Airport’s fire alarm system, said co-owner Scott Carroll.

Mass notification moving beyond government and schools


At last year’s ASIS conference, a hot topic of discussion was making the workplace safe. There was talk about guns in the work environment and how to screen for that. And, said Mike Madden, national sales manager for Gamewell-FCI, there was a “sense of urgency” among large corporate clients about mass notification and emergency communications.

From Clery Act to gun laws: 2010 brought big changes for educational security


YARMOUTH, Maine—The education security sector saw some significant changes in 2010.

School finds that in emergency, practice makes perfect


ORONO, Maine—When the local police requested assistance from the University of Maine police department during an armed bank robbery, the university’s emergency management staff wasted no time activating its notification systems. Officials were concerned that the armed suspect, who had just robbed a bank adjacent to campus, may have fled onto school grounds.

College uses key fobs for mass notification, not cell phones


PROVIDENCE, R.I.—After the tragedy of Virginia Tech in 2007, colleges and universities rushed to adopt mass notification technologies. Most of these systems required students to submit their cell phone numbers in order to receive emergency notifications. However, this reliance on third-party cellular carriers has caused concern for some educational security directors, including Koren Kanadanian, director of emergency management at Providence College.