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Sirens to be tested April 2

by Karen A. Grava - March 31, 2008

The University will test the outdoor siren system at the Storrs campus only on Wednesday, April 2. The sirens are a component of the Alert Notification System.

The test will begin at 9:45 a.m. and will continue intermittently for approximately one hour.

Although the sirens may be heard inside some buildings, they are designed to serve as a warning for people who are outside.

The test is intentionally being conducted during a busy part of the week, says Barry Feldman, vice president and chief operating officer.

“We regret any inconvenience the testing may cause,” he says, “but it is necessary to conduct a full test of the system.”

Were the sirens to go off in an actual emergency, faculty, staff, and students should view the alert.uconn.edu web site for information on the situation.

Last week, the University conducted a test of the text messaging system using new technology from the current text message vendor.

The test was significantly more successful than previous tests. The message was sent to the carriers of more than 16,500 registered cell phones in less than 20 seconds.

An online survey of results indicates that about one third of students, faculty, and staff received the message within 15 minutes.

More than two thirds received it within 30 minutes, and almost all received it within 45 minutes.

The lag from 20 seconds to 45 minutes is primarily a result of the speed with which individual cell phone carriers delivered the messages, says Daniel Mooney, director of enterprise administrative services.

Approximately 2 percent of the messages did not get delivered for various reasons, such as an incorrect cell phone number, that the intended recipient has no text messaging plan, or the recipient’s cell phone tower was overloaded and dropped the message, Mooney says.

These issues are associated with text messaging in general, and the error rate was typical

for mass delivery for this type of message.

Although the test was more successful than previous tests, the University is continuing to explore whether or not other methods exist to improve performance of the system.

The University has a number of redundant systems for use in an emergency, including text messaging, sirens, emergency blue phones, intercom systems, voice mail, and e-mail.

The University’s notification systems are purposely redundant and will work best if people who hear a siren or receive a text message or notice a blinking emergency blue phone share the information with others.

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