6 steps to better emergency preparedness on campus

Common campus-related emergencies might include bomb threats, earthquakes, evacuations, fires, hazmats, medical issues, missing persons, power outages, regional emergencies, severe weather, violence, and so on.

3. Address dispersed and diverse campus populations.

A hallmark of many college campuses is a sprawling layout, often with multiple campuses, a combination of both resident and commuter students, and varying staff roles. This dynamic can prove challenging when communicating instructions during urgent situations, so universities must address how to streamline communication of important information across multiple users and locales.

As an example, George Mason University deployed a mobile emergency response app for its overall campus population, which includes more than 32,000 students across four separate campuses and 800 acres, to address common emergencies, as well as a separate app for its executive leadership team with critical procedural and contact information.

4. Anticipate power and cell interruptions.

With emergencies often causing unpredictable results, such as knocking out power and cellular service, it is key to anticipate how students and faculty will know how to respond without these communication conveniences in place.

For example, take a weather event like Hurricane Sandy, when all resources are challenged—or an active shooter event, when traditional communication services are often blocked by a traffic spike. What’s more, access to specific locations where emergency response manuals are stored might be limited based on the type of emergency.

As such, universities should take measures to avoid relying heavily on paper-based flipbooks, websites, and SMS texts for emergency planning. Rather, they should leverage solutions that save the information directly to the mobile device.

5. Go beyond emergency notifications.

While emergency notification systems leverage smart phones to alert a campus population to a specific incident or situation, they fall short of providing necessary instructions to the impacted population.

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