WUPD continues to back iAlert system

Jennifer Loucks

The iAlert system, run by Washburn’s Information Systems and Services, along with the police force, is up and running, but some tweaks are still being made to the system.

iAlert is an electronic messaging system that sends out police-generated notices to student’s home phones, cell phones, and e-mails, regarding any problems on or near campus. As of two weeks ago, Micheal Gunter, Director of Information Systems and Services at Washburn University, said the count of students signed up is roughly 750 out of 6,000.

Dean Forster, director of university police, said things have been going well.

“Anytime you get something new, there are always problems,” said Forster. “It’s a learning curve. The only problems that we’ve had are that certain carriers were not allowing anonymous, unidentified calls. We contact these carriers, and everything has been worked out.”

Last week, iAlert began running with a new company, Rave Wireless. The Police Department has purchased seven satellite phones to ensure that, in any scenario, they will be able to get the notices to students.

“We know that in an emergency, everyone will be on their cell phones, so with these satellite phones, we know we’ll be able to communicate,” said Forester. “We have trained people working with them,”

Additionally, the Washburn Police Department has posted videos on the Web site with step-by-step instructions on what to do in certain emergency situations. The iAlert system will not, however, be used in weather emergencies. Forester said if students receive too many texts or calls via the iAlert system, the program will lose its edge, and it may be ignored.

Once students realize the benefits of the program, it’s relatively easy to sign up.

“All a student needs to do is log on to the Washburn Web site or the police Web site and find the link,” said Forster. “Then, [they] can register as many phones as [they like].”

Once a student does this, his or her phone numbers will be on the contact list for good. The only time someone would need to reregister is if he or she were to get a new number.

“We are really proud of the system, it’s the full nine yards,” said Forester, “We want everyone to know how seriously Washburn University takes the security of our students. People like it when we’re bored, so we hope to never use the system, but we bought enough room for everyone on campus to be signed up. We can’t reach everyone if everyone isn’t signed up.”

The first test of the new system will be this quarter. The police department plans to make an announcement prior to this to give everyone another chance to join.