FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 1, 2007
College to Adopt Emergency Notification System
With earthquakes, wildfires and other campus emergencies a constant concern for colleges and universities across the state, College of the Canyons has announced that it will be installing a new Emergency Campus Notification system to better communicate with the college's many students, staff and faculty members in the event of such an emergency.
The college's new Emergency Campus Notification (ECN), produced by NEC Unified Solutions, Inc., is a software-based management system, designed specifically for mass notification, which provides a centralized and user-friendly command center for alerting and notifying different groups on campus.
NEC Unified Solutions, Inc. is a global leader in VoIP and data communications technology, serving markets in the education, government, healthcare and hospitality industries with a portfolio of solutions for wireless, unified communications, voice, data and management services.
At College of the Canyons the ECN will provide the ability to send both new and pre-programmed voice or text messages, either immediately or at pre-determined times, to alert first responders about any type of campus emergency while also quickly disseminating notification messages to a variety of communication destinations including: pagers, home, office and cellular telephone numbers, SMS text messages, e-mail accounts and personal digital assistants (PDAs).
"It's a very user-friendly program, and was the only system on the market that integrated our existing communication system and would work seamlessly with all of our current equipment," said Jim Schrage, COC dean of facilities. "We will be able to pre-program hundreds of different types of messages, depending on what emergency we could potentially be dealing with, and at the push of a button we can decide the message we want to send and pick what groups on campus we want to send it out to. Within ten seconds we can send out whatever we need to, wherever we need to and in whatever format we need to"
Sold to College of the Canyons by Digital Telecommunications Corp. (DTC), at a cost of roughly $52,000, the ECN system should serve as the long-term solution to all the college's emergency communication needs, Schrage said.
"By selecting ECN for mass alerts and notifications, College of the Canyons is on the leading edge of campus safety awareness," said Ray Maccani, vice president of sales for DTC. "As one of just a few NEC dealers with specialized expertise in vertical markets, DTC is dedicated to providing higher education institutions with the latest communications solutions for improved safety and learning."
Another key factor in the college's decision to implement the new ECN system was the ability to utilize the popularity of text messages as the preferred form of communication among COC students in alerting them to a campus emergency.
"We know from our student's behavior that most will check their text messages almost instantly, so in the event of a campus emergency this system should allow us to be able to quickly communicate with a significant portion of the student population," said Michael Wilding, COC assistant superintendent and vice president of student services. "They all text message, so you have to be able to provide the message in a way they are going to get it."
Though the ECN does have the capacity to contact students, staff and faculty via home and office telephone lines, both Wilding and Schrage are quick to point out the importance for members of the college community to keep updated cellular contact information on file with the college in order to take full advantage of the system's capabilities.
"It's critical that students keep their contact information up to date or they run the risk of not receiving such important messages," Schrage said.
With an estimated six to eight week system installation period, college officials plan to begin sending out sample messages and testing the new software at some point this semester, with a goal to be fully operational before the end of the year.
"We've always had people at the college who could handle the on-campus elements of a major emergency, but we've never had the ability to instantly notify the rest of the college community and tell people to stay away from campus," Schrage said, "so this really completes our emergency communication loop."