|RENO, NV: When motorists need to receive immediate emergency information, safety officials don’t want drivers digging for mobile phones. That is why Emergency Manager Ed Atwell at the University of Nevada Reno envisioned a means of transmitting text-based alert messages – not only to cellphones and PC’s – but also to automobile radios near his campus.
|Atwell explains, “An emergency message goes out as a text/email message to all faculty, staff and students, as well as anyone who has registered contact information via personal cellphones, and also scrolls on all university PC’s and monitors. At the same time, the message is automatically enunciated and broadcast, interrupting the normal radio programming on our campus’ Information Radio Station.”
The method of tying text alerts and radio broadcasting together was given the name “ENcast” by Information Station Specialists and can be instituted on many CAP/EAS compliant notification systems such as E2Campus/Ameralert, AlertSense and others.
Related technology can be used to automatically engage solar-powered emergency signs – such as the one pictured above in use by the University of California Irvine – in conjunction with text-based notifications. The signs can advise motorists to take a specific action and/or to monitor a special radio frequency for more information.
The understanding that motorists are at risk when dangerous situations arise is beginning to take hold not only at universities but in the communities that envelop them. On a Saturday night in Kalamazoo, Michigan, last month, an Uber driver began randomly executing people he encountered during a crime rampage that spanned the evening. Because the incident took place at locations that were near – but not on – the Western Michigan University Campus, students were perplexed that the administration did not notify students of the imminent danger just miles away. In published articles, University President John Dunn admitted that the school had failed to provide adequate updates to students and staff. But it was motorists – both on and off the WMU campus – who interacted innocently with this threat for six hours until the shooter was apprehended. The largest loss of life were five women in a vehicle who encountered the shooter in a parking lot. Four lost their lives. See the WMU Kalamazoo story.