Recent Fires, National Survey Point to the Need for Enhanced Crisis Communication and Planning on College Campuses

    The NTI Group, Inc.
    (NTI), provider of the mass notification service Connect-ED, is hosting two panel discussions at The League for Innovation’s Annual Conference on
    Information Technology (CIT) this week to discuss the importance of emergency notification technologies and best practices for the mobile
    campus community. The panels come within weeks of rampant fires that disrupted campus activity throughout Southern California, and a newly
    released national survey that reports over 55 percent of two and four year colleges surveyed have yet to incorporate emergency notification systems as part of their crisis response planning.

    According to the 2007 Campus Computing Project Survey, more than two-fifths (44 percent) of colleges and universities surveyed report having
    a strategic plan for emergency communication or notification services.
    While many schools have enlisted systems like Connect-ED to service campus communication, the key elements of the emergency communication plan for most institutions are based in existing IT resources that were not built to perform in time-sensitive, high volume delivery situations. A mere 18 percent of institutions surveyed have plans that incorporate off-campus phones and only 22.1 percent include student and faculty cell phones.

    “Higher education as a whole has made great strides in crisis planning, yet a number of colleges and universities are still in need of a
    comprehensive tool that will maximize their ability to effectively communicate during a crisis,” said Robin D. Richards, Chairman and CEO of
    NTI. “Campus leaders must have a way to reach members of their community when there is an emergency, and the key to a successful system is obtaining students’ information and knowing how and when to effectively use it. As we saw with the recent fires in Southern California, you can never know when or where the need will arise.”

    In a one week period during the California wildfires, over 6.3 million voice calls and 1.5 million email and SMS messages were sent by NTI users
    within the state of California alone. Campuses in the San Diego area, including the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene, used the
    Connect-ED system to reach students and faculty with information about campus closures and health concerns.

    The CIT conference provides a timely opportunity for campus technology leaders to discuss the importance of emergency notification technologies. On Sunday, Wilmington University Director of Admission Chris Ferguson will
    provide his insight into how his university has implemented the Connect-ED system as part of its crisis planning and to meet its enrollment management goals. Monday’s focus groups discussion will address the challenges and
    opportunities associated with incorporating emergency notification systems into crisis plans. Topics will address current technology, the importance of using multiple modes of communication, and best practices for the mobile
    campus community in community colleges.

    The Connect-ED service requires no additional hardware and can be used from any telephone or computer. It allows school officials to immediately disseminate important messages and emergency response information to recipients, no matter what their preferred method of communication is, through four different modes of communication:

    — Voice messages to home phones, work phones, cell phones, and even emails

    — Text messages to cell phones, PDAs and other text-based devices

    — Written messages to e-mail accounts

    — Messages to TTY/TDD receiving devices for the hearing impaired