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Virginia Tech had an opportunity to shine today and I feel they let down a big portion of the campus community.

Last year they set up VT Alerts- a system that sends emails, voicemails and texts to alert faculty, staff and students when there's something serious going on. This past summer they put LED screens in classrooms all over campus to alert us if anything bad happens on campus. Around 12:40 today someone called into VT police saying they heard sounds like a gunshot. When it was all said and done, it wound up that some kids were setting off firecrackers, in the rain no less, in a nearby dumpster. 

Timeline:

12:40 pm- call

1:45- as my class ends, our LED alarm goes off saying police are investigated gunshot like sounds in Pritchard, that the building has been closed down and that they will keep us updated

I hopped on the next Hokie Express (bus that goes around campus) and went back home to Oak Lane (Greek community on the other side of campus). I literally had a panic attack on the way home. All I could think of was April 16 and reliving the feelings of being in West AJ. I thought I was going to throw up.

I received an email from the university at 2, even though it was sent at 1:40

I did not receive the text or voicemail that we were required to sign up for a month ago during course request.

My roommate's classroom's LED screen did not show any alerts and did not beep like it was supposed to. The majority of my sisters did not receive the text they were supposed to either.

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And it wound up being fireworks. Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful that it was nothing serious. But fireworks?! How insensitive can you be to people who have lived through hearing the gunshots, finding out their friends were killed, watching the SWAT team and State Police rush off with their M16's... I just can't believe it.

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As I'm typing this I received another email from the university saying they'll be checking into why VT Alerts didn't work when they sent them out 3 times. My problem with this is VT Alerts has been tested three times since they implemented it and all three times it has failed for me. They should have gotten the majority of the kinks fixed the first three times they tested it. What if this had been real? Most of the people I talked to after I left my classroom had no clue what was going on and they hadn't heard about the situation.

"Virginia Tech has been in touch with 3n, the outside vendor that manages the delivery of VT Alerts for the university, to understand why the system failed to deliver all the text and voice mail messages and messages to non university e-mail accounts. VT Alert is intended to reach mobile devices—primarily voice messages or text messages to cell phones—with emergency information.  

Once the university finds out from 3n why VT Alerts did not work as expected, it will share that information with the university community."

That's great. And if this had been real? 

They should've closed down campus. I can think of three colleges off the top of my head that have had similar incidents where there might've been a threat (in the end it wasn't) and they immediately closed down campus. We of all people should understand this. Virginia Tech had a time to shine and they failed miserably. This feel safe, be safe policy doesn't work. I understand the idea behind the system they use and I think it's a great way to get information to a lot of people in a short amount of time. But it's got to work. I applaud our campus police for responding to the scene within 3 minutes of the call and that with their quick work, they deduced there was no threat. It bothers me though that so many people did not know what happened until an hour after the fact.

I know for sure that if I was allowed to carry on campus, I would not have had a panic attack when I read the alert in the classroom. More than ever I am convinced that I cannot rely on someone else to keep me safe. I am that much more resolved to do what it takes for VT to allow concealed carry on campus. 

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Anonymous
Don

It saddens me to read this article.  Virginia Tech has been through enough.  If there is any consolation in this statement, VT is not alone.  Universities throughout America are experiencing an epidemic of missed, late and alerts that never even go out.

Check it out for yourself - Do a Google search on failed Emergency Text Alerts and you can read many articles on this very topic.  I will even list a few below. 

The bottom line is that Text Messages will never be valuable sources of mass communication do to the text message being blocked by spam filters.  The day VT Text Alert System works, as advertised, then we can all throw our cell phones away because Spammer will come out of the woodwork and bombard everyone with Text Messages selling Insurance, Mortgages, and everything else.  

The University of Manitoba in Canada has just recently conducted an Emergency Alert Test to 48,000 students, visitors, faculty and staff and all on campus receive the first message in less than 3 minutes, and the second test message in less than 10 minutes. 

Officials Taking Second Look at Campus Communications in Wake of Situation
But the question is, did communication at Western Kentucky University fail? After school officials received reports of armed gunmen on campus, thousands of text messages were sent to students and faculty warning them to seek shelter

http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/1966904/ 

A School Shooting a Failed, Fast Response System
Last night about 9:50pm PST, 7-8 gunshots rang out across the campus of my school, LMU. Within an hour I could see half a dozen LAPD cars 200 yards outside my window with a helicopter circling over my building. My roommate and wondered what exactly was going on.
10 Comments to this article - Unbelievable! There is even one from a VT student.

http://www.hackcollege.com/2008/02/07/a-school-shooting-a-failed-fast-response-system-and-juicycampuscom/ 

Does Emergency Text Messaging Systems Put Students in More Danger?
The rush to use text messaging as an emergency notification system fails to consider the weaknesses and potential hazards of this solution

http://connect.educause.edu/Library/EDUCAUSE+Quarterly/DoEmergencyTextMessagingS/47084?time=1224454693 

3G Americas Highlights New Research Report on Use of Cellular Text Messaging for Emergency Alert Services

"SMS is touted as being able to deliver critical information during disaster events, and such services have been purchased by universities and municipalities hoping to protect the general public," Traynor stated. "Unfortunately, such systems typically will not work as advertised."

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/3g-americas-highlights-new-research/story.aspx?guid=%7BB143DAE4-30CC-4D37-97E8-BE2F93BD6E49%7D&dist=hppr

Text Alert System Found Flawed in First University Wide Test
University-wide test of the University of South Carolina's emergency text-messaging system Wednesday failed to reach everyone on campus as quickly as administrators had hoped.

http://www.datelinecarolina.org/Global/story.asp?S=8220187&nav=1VPx

Nov 13, 2008 04:37 PM #1
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