taken from the March 14, 2011 issue The Daily Gamebook
See the full article click here- http://www.dailygamecock.com/news/item/881-usc-creates-%E2%80%98alert-fm%E2%80%99-for-$15000
USC creates ‘Alert FM’ for $15,000
System sends alerts through radio in case of campus emergency
By Cassie Stanton and Josh Dawsey, The Daily Gamecock
USC is set to spend about $15,000 to update its emergency alert system with new wall-mounted technology.
The university has installed 22 wall-mounted radio FM boxes around campus for emergency alert notifications. Those cost $300 each. An additional 20 receivers are expected to be added, said Vinny Bocchino, USC’s emergency management coordinator.
The university also will provide 50 desktop units to USC’s vice presidents, deans and higher administrators. Those will cost $45 each.
The updates were paid for with federal stimulus funds, said Stacy Bradley, associate vice president for student affairs.
“This is a great way to use one-time funds for student safety enhancements,” Bradley said.
Alert FM is a station identifier that uses radio signals broadcast by WUSC, the university’s student-run radio station, to deliver text messages to receivers located in high-traffic areas across USC’s campus.
Messages sent through the Alert FM devices will be the same ones students receive to their cell phones. Alert FM will only be used in “life-threatening situations,” according to Bocchino.
“This type of communication device would only be used if we need the community to act, to change its behavior in some form or the other,” Bocchino said. “For example, if your life [were] in danger and we need you to seek shelter, stop what you’re doing and evacuate. This is only if something serious were to occur; it would not be just for notification.”
Alert FM was suggested by Scott Lindenberg, director of Student Media, to the Emergency Communications committee. Initially another option was considered that required installing a new system, but Lindenberg said Alert FM was more efficient and affordable.
The device does not require a power supply and has a battery that lasts five years, so power or Internet outages will not affect the usage of Alert FM. Since Alert FM communicates through radio signals, it will rely on the technologies WUSC provides, but the radio station will not control the alert notifications, Lindenberg said.
The system is an effort by USC’s emergency management to use mass media in order to keep people safe in emergency situations.
“This is just one more tool in our toolbox because every single communication method is prone to failure,” Bocchino said. “If the cell phone lines get jammed, if one system goes down, this is just another way that we can have redundancy. It’s again why we picked radio signals because that is something that is pretty reliable and is a backup if cell lines and Internet lines go down.”
USC will conduct its spring test of Carolina Alert, the campus-wide emergency-notification system, at noon Thursday, March 17. Tests of the system will appear in all forms of communication, including the Carolina Alert Web page, social media, sirens, text messages, university e-mail, radio and TV message crawl.
The message on social media, text messaging, TV message crawl and RSS subscribers will be the following:
“This is a TEST of the Carolina Alert system. In an emergency, check http://www.sc.edu/CarolinaAlert. This is only a TEST.”