By Christine Mundy
We all received the E-mail. The campus “blue lights” were out of order. Even though they were disabled only for a short time, the possibility that a very comforting safety standard at Siena could be removed was unsettling. Luckily, Siena Security was able to address the situation quickly and now the call boxes are back in working order.
Along with the new welcome booth and security gates on campus, Siena Safety and Security has been working with the E2 Siena Alert campus notification system to ensure the safest campus possible. The Siena Alert notification system alerts students and faculty to campus emergencies and students who have not already subscribed to the program are encouraged to do so.
I took a trip to the Security offices to learn how the E2 notification system works. Every staff member at the office has the program listed on their favorites for easy access and each employee has to test the program ever 1st and 15th of the month to keep their skills sharp. Whoever sends the alert can decide between several messaging groups or decide to send the message to the entire system. Messages are allowed 160 characters (for most cell phones, the limit for text messages) and their message will be send through both E-mail and text message. Every student who registers with the program has the opportunity to register another person under his or her account. For example, parents can be listed as well so they are kept informed as to the notifications, as well.
They sent a message to a test list in front of my eyes, and I studied the second hand on my watch to time this entire process. From the instant he pressed “Send” to the time Safety and Security Director, Richard Sheldon had received the message on his cell phone only ten seconds had passed. Sheldon explained that even when a message is sent to the complete list, it still moves quickly and has never taken longer than a minute to go through. Siena’s program is based on a 2,000 people capacity and there are so far 1,700 registered users. Sheldon assured that if Siena exceeded that 2,000 people, the program would expand to accommodate them.
Siena is going to use the notification system only when necessary so as not to simulate a “boy who cried wolf” effect. Messages from Siena Alert are to be taken seriously and not disregarded as frivolous e-mails. This notification system is so important with the cultural dependence on cellular phones.
When students had traditional telephones in their dorm rooms, it was easier to contact them. Now, very few students still have that land-line connection so this new system is a great way to bridge that gap.
Other enhancements happening for Siena Security are the completely revamped call boxes. The new call boxes will be arriving in early March. Currently there are 29 “blue boxes” on campus and with the new shipment this semester, Siena will add one more up by the President’s House. The new boxes will have two speakers each and will be equipped with a yellow strobe light. The yellow light is in addition to the existing blue light, but when activated, the yellow light with go off and accompany a siren Sheldon could only describe as reminiscent of “one of those old submarine sirens”. He went on to explain that they tested the first siren in the middle of the academic quad during the summer and it was so loud that no one could stand next to it. In fact, out by Spring Street and out behind Padua, the sound of just that one siren was audible. Because each of the (now thirty) boxes will have this siren, the sound will be unavoidable. Also to come with the new call boxes is the ability to program six audible messages to be broadcasted through the speakers.
Students are encouraged to sign up for Siena Alert, but if you are experiencing problems doing so, please contact Sandy Serbalik, Director of Risk Analysis/Project Management at Ext. 2596 or firstname.lastname@example.org