New Emergency Alert System Easier To Personalize, Update
Jan.7, 2011 – Collin College is upgrading its emergency alert system, CougarAlert, which until recently, had only been used for weather closings.
That changed on August. 17 when a gunman opened fire on the McKinney Public Safety Building before moving across the street to Collin College’s Central Park Campus. Thanks to the emergency management plan, which included police and CougarAlert, no students or employees were hurt.
The incident underscored the role played by communication technology during a campus emergency. Although CougarAlert worked, college district officials are now adding even more options and flexibility to the system.
CougarAlert instantly sends a text message, email and/or phone call to students, faculty, staff and administrators with warnings, instructions, updates and the latest news. CougarAlert is not used for non-emergency messages nor can it be used for any commercial purposes.
The new system will allow the user to receive messages via as many as nine contacts—three emails, three text numbers and three voice-call phone lines. The new system also allows parents, friends and members of the community to subscribe to the service.
Also, Collin College students and employees will be partially signed up for CougarAlert automatically when they register for class or accept employment. Unlike the previous system which required the user to subscribe or unsubscribe manually, the new system automatically loads the college e-mail address and personal phone number for students as well as faculty, staff and administrators. However, they must add their SMS/text numbers manually to receive text messages. Because text messaging has proven to be very effective in emergencies, college officials strongly encourage students and employees to add text messaging or update numbers and e-mails using the instructions at www.collin.edu/cougaralert.html.
The new CougarAlert system also can also automatically post to social media such as Facebook and Twitter as well as provide RSS feeds. The more redundant systems, such as these, the more quickly critical information can be received by on-campus personnel.
Students in continuing education courses, university classes at the Collin Higher Education Center or dual credit courses through their high schools are not automatically loaded, but are eligible for a subscription by visiting www.collin.edu/cougaralert.html.
CougarAlert is a free service, but standard text messaging fees may apply if users do not have an unlimited plan. Visit www.collin.edu/cougaralert.html to learn more or to activate or update an emergency contact profile.
Collin College serves more than 51,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The only public college in the county, Collin College is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and work force development.