By Selina Iglesias
Last semester, The Corsair covered PSC Alerts, a new technology that allows students to receive emergency notifications through their mobile devices when they are unable to reach their email or the situation is urgent.
Back in the early months of the 2014 Fall semester, PSC Alerts was still a work in progress.
Due to the work of ReGroup, an emergency and notification website, as well as Samantha Hill and Tom Gillam of Student Affairs administration, this alert system was implemented throughout the campuses around late November.
“Right now, the only way we can really communicate effectively with all the students is through Piratemail,”said Gillam, VP of Student Affairs. “But a lot of students won’t check it regularly or a lot of students don’t have it available, but they do have text messaging available.”
These alerts are sent to any cell phone or home phone number to announce events around campus, campus closures due to extreme weather conditions, lock-downs and intruder alerts or any other issue that requires immediate action.
Students can set up multiple numbers or emails to receive PSC Alerts, so parents and guardians can get them, too. This means that texts can be set up to send to mobile devices, email, desktop computers and a spoken message can be sent to land-line home phones or answering machines.
“We got it primarily for text but it will also call phone numbers and do sort of a computer voice message so that if we type something into a computer, it will read it,” said Gillam. “It gives us the ability to contact students for emergency notifications.”
The campus had an alert system before, but that only permitted alerts to be sent to email. Now, with the technology available, there is a faster way to make sure students get the information they need. Students can choose what kind of alerts they wish to receive, allowing the text messages to be filtered, something that cannot be achieved with Piratemail.
Right now, students can only get emergency alerts, but there are definitely future plans for the system.
“In the future, we may have options where certain groups can opt-in to receive messages. For example, you might have one of our federal trio programs has asked if they can opt in so they can send messages to their students,” Gillam said. “We may in the future add other categories that students can go into online, so they can set their messages and say ‘yes, I want to get messages from this group’.”
With a total of 14,000 people on campus, including staff and students, only an estimated few hundred implement the technology.
Gillam encourages students to sign up for PSC Alerts, as he says it is important to know exactly what is going on around campus at all times.
Student Affairs plans to do a test run of PSC Alerts on Friday, March 27, 2015, and those who have signed up will receive a text message or phone call with the test notification.
For more information, students can visit http://www.pensacolastate.edu/pscalert/ to sign up and get notified on campus events and activities.