CU-Boulder To Test Campus Text-Messaging System April 7 Following City-Campus Flood Siren Test

April 3, 2008

The University of Colorado at Boulder will join with Boulder and other Boulder County cities in a flood-warning siren test the morning of Monday, April 7, and will follow it two hours later with a test of the university's text-messaging system.

CU-Boulder's sirens will be activated at about 10 a.m. Monday by the Boulder County Sheriff's Office of Communications. The campus test will coincide with siren tests by the city of Boulder and other Boulder County cities and towns including Eldorado Springs, Lafayette and Lyons.

The test of CU-Boulder's text-messaging system, called Rave, will be at about noon on Monday. The Rave text-messaging system was launched on Aug. 23 last year as students returned to campus for the fall semester.

CU's text-messaging system had 11,808 subscribers as of April 2 including students, faculty and staff members. Of the total subscribers, 84 percent, or 9,918, are students. Student subscribers represent about 34 percent of the nearly 29,000-member student body based on the April 2 total.

CU-Boulder students have been encouraged to sign up for the wireless text-messaging service so the campus administration can notify students, faculty and staff swiftly via their mobile phones in case of a campus emergency.

A CU-Boulder Task Force decided in July 2007 that quick text messaging via mobile phones would be a valuable addition to other communication tools such as public address systems, electronic message boards and e-mail by providing a direct link to students in an emergency. Quick notification in an emergency has been a focal point on college campuses in the post-Virginia Tech environment, which raised concerns about campus emergency notification systems.

A one-year contract to provide CU's service via Rave Alert of New York was approved last year at a cost of about $18,000 for 2007-08. In addition to the base fee, CU-Boulder pays 6 cents per completed text message under the current contract. The contract will be renegotiated and extended for another year in 2008-09.

The Rave system allows the CU-Boulder administration to send messages of 132 characters or less to cell phones in the database, and messages are received within several minutes of the transmission. Messages can be updated and used to direct people to appropriate Web sites and TV and radio stations for information.

In emergencies, users would be directed to the CU home page at www.colorado.edu, to the CUConnect portal at cuconnect.colorado.edu/uPortal/index.jsp and to the campus Information Line at 303-492-4636 or 303-492-INFO.

Following CU-Boulder's April 7 siren test, which lasts for about two minutes, the sirens will be tested on the first Monday of each month beginning April 7 and concluding on Monday, Aug. 4. Other siren testing dates are Monday, May 5; Monday, June 2; and Monday, July 7. Siren testing is conducted annually to ensure the sirens work properly, to improve public understanding about the use of the sirens, and to inform citizens about how to respond when the outdoor warning sirens are activated.

For information about the text-messaging system go to the CU-Boulder Web site at www.colorado.edu/alerts. For more information about the Boulder flood warning system contact Linda Stafford of the Boulder Office of Emergency Management at 303-441-3640.

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