Campus Alerts Not Taken Seriously

Aug. 14, 2014

A new study shows that emergency communications that don't specify the threat could be doing more harm than good.

Emergency notification systems are becoming more advanced and integrated with our daily lives, but are they being taken as seriously as we'd hope? A new study from the University of Central Florida indicates that if campus alerts are not used with discretion, they could be ignored when emergencies occur, much like the proverbial boy crying wolf.

Focusing specifically on student and faculty attitudes before and after a campus-wide attack in 2013, the research found that before the incident, the emergency notification system was not regarded as a source of useful information "due to the high volume of alerts students and faculty received." After the incident, respondents to the study had a more positive perception of the emergency alert system and reported it to be more appreciated throughout campus. 

The researchers are quick to point out that even though the alert system is taken more seriously than it previously was, there are still lessons to be learned. 

Suggestions to improve campus security and notification measures include more restraint as to when notifications are sent out so recipients aren't bombarded with notifications to the point where they are ignored. Organizations should also differentiate between serious and non-serious threats so occupants or students are able to assess the relative threat level. 

"It's essential that the information is accurate, timely, and used sparingly enough to maintain safety and cultivate the public's trust," say the authors of the study. 

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