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Penn’s New Emergency Notification System
September 11, 2007, Volume 54, No. 3

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The University of Pennsylvania is launching a new emergency alert communication system that will enable students, faculty and staff to quickly receive news and instructions during crisis situations.

The PennAlert Emergency Notification System was developed for the University by MIR3™, Incorporated. The system allows the University to send simultaneous alerts in minutes through text messaging, voicemail and e-mail to numerous devices, such as cell phones, landline phones, fax machines and PDAs, and permits two-way communication between each recipient and the University. The new system augments existing emergency communications tools, including web postings, e-mail, voicemail and an automated message line.

“During an emergency situation, fast, efficient communication is vital to the safety of our community members,” said Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli. “PennAlert will enable us to reach people directly, through multiple points of contact, and then will let us know that the message has reached the recipient. This is especially important in communicating urgent information to a large decentralized population such as ours.”

The University selected MIR3 this summer, after an extensive review of numerous emergency notification systems.

“We are pleased that the University of Pennsylvania selected MIR3’s new system for emergency communications,” said Dan Long, chief technology officer at MIR3.“ We are confident we can provide critical emergency information to students and staff as well as to parents, off-campus law enforcement agencies and other external organizations, no matter what type of device a person has at hand. Its two-way feature lets recipients acknowledge they’ve received an alert, so that first responders can track responses and react accordingly.”

Features of the PennAlert Emergency Notification System include:

• Multiple communication devices per user to support all options used by today’s technology-savvy population.
• Two-way messages for both voice and data to allow the University to track notifications and quickly determine who is safe and who needs help.
• A Message Bulletin Board feature that allows users to call into a central number to obtain updates about the status of an event, and can direct users to the Division of Public Safety website,  www.publicsafety.upenn.edu/PennAlert/default.asp, for emergency information.
• A unified approach for contacting parents using emergency contact data.
• Strong data protection and security features to ensure user privacy and compliance with federal regulations.

Maintaining current contact information will be critical to the effectiveness of the system and students, faculty and staff are urged to update their contact information on a regular basis. The information is secure and will remain private.

“We can’t stress enough how important it is for people to provide updated contact information, so that we can reach them wherever they may be at any given time,” said Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush. “One of the highlights of this system is that we can reach people with critical information even if they are not on campus.”
Faculty and staff can register at  www.upenn.edu/directories. Click on “Update Directory Listings” and log in using your PennKey.

Students can register through Penn InTouch via the Penn Portal at www.upenn.edu/penn_portal.

Almanac - September 11, 2007, Volume 54, No. 3