Text Alerts: For the most significant and urgent threats, Belmont uses a text alert system to quickly notify a mass audience. Belmont's Text Alert System, currently provided by Dobie Mobile and Blackboard Connect, is available to all Belmont University students, faculty, and staff. This system currently has approximately 10,500 subscribers (Belmont's current student, faculty and staff numbers represent a headcount of approximately 8,223).
The system can be activated from a cell phone or computer, and staff members in four offices (Communications, VP for Administration/Legal Counsel, Risk Management and Campus Security) have the ability to access the system and distribute an appropriate message. Sample messages covering a variety of scenarios—including tornado warnings, fire, gunman on campus, etc.—have been created and added to the system for quick access.
However, text messages cannot be the sole method of communications given the limitations of the technology and the possibility that wireless systems may be inoperable in a crisis.
Email: The Office of Communications, the Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of Campus Security each have the capacity to email all students, faculty and staff in the event of a campus emergency. This system is used in conjunction with Text Alerts to expand on details and to deliver further timely information as circumstances develop over the course of any emergency situation.
Additional Communication Avenues:
Additional communication outlets that can be used as a supplement to texts and emails to inform the campus of emergency situations include:
- Banner Message on Belmont’s Intranet Connection MyBelmont Web site
- Campus Announcement on Belmont’s Intranet Connection MyBelmont Web site
- Security vehicles equipped with loudspeakers that can target areas of campus
- Belmont University Facebook page/BelmontUniv Twitter Account
- (615) 460-5000 telephone news line
- Campus-wide Voicemail
- Headline on Belmont.edu home page
- Door-to-door verbal communication from Residence Life, Campus Security staff
- Local Media Outlets
- Posted flyers
Together these multiple channels for communication are intended to provide immediate transmission of specific information regarding an emergency to all affected areas of the campus in the quickest, most thorough form possible. The variety of methods used helps ensure the greatest number of individuals will receive the message and also allows for targeted messaging in the event mass notification would compromise efforts to assist victims or otherwise mitigate the emergency. Information will be shared during the emergency situation, and many of these communication venues will also be used to provide information as needed throughout the duration of the emergency and as follow up after the crisis has been resolved.
Though the Office of Communications is the primary source for actually sending and/or posting all security messages through all the various communication outlets, a “Red Book” manual was created that provides step-by-step directions on how to initiate each system in the event of an emergency. In addition to Office of Communications staff, the Red Book was distributed to the offices of the Vice President for Administration and Legal Counsel and Campus Security. The manual also exists in an online cloud, DropBox, which is accessible to various parties in these offices via the Web or a mobile device.
In the event that the Belmont Web sites (Belmont.edu, My.Belmont.edu) should go down, BelmontUpdate.com was created as a back-up Web site that could be used to communicate emergency information in a crisis situation.