BU alert system sends first text

Tuesday’s test run of Baker University’s new B-Alert system proved itself successful.

At 11:15 a.m., e-mails and cell phones alerted their owners of a new message as the system sent its first message.

“We had a pretty successful campaign (Tuesday) for the test message,” Web Services Administrator Toby Ebel said. “All of the e-mails were sent out successfully and all but 50 text messages went through, and a few of those were just delayed because of the carrier.”

B-Alert is a notification system Baker purchased from the company 21st Century.

The system allows the university to get information out quickly to those signed up in the event of an emergency or weather problems.

“If a tornado were to touch down somewhere, we could quickly get a text message or an e-mail and/or a voice phone call that reads a message to anybody on the list that signs up,” Ebel said.

Ebel said about 390 people were signed up to receive notifications from B-Alert.

Dean of Students Cassy Bailey, who has been involved with emergency contact systems at other campuses, said the signup rate is about the same on other campuses as at Baker.

She said her concern is that not all the students, faculty or staff are aware of the B-Alert system.

“What we notice is that people don’t sign up when there’s not a tragedy,” she said. “Right after we have some sort of national tragedy, unfortunately, signups go up and people become more aware of it.”

Senior Beth Crandall is one of the students who received Tuesday’s test message and was pleased to see an emergency notification system in place at Baker University.

“I think it’s a very important thing for us to have,” Crandall said. “I was a little skeptical at the beginning, because I didn’t know if Baker would actually go through with it, but I’m glad to see they did.”

Baker will benefit from the B-Alert system in more ways than the obvious one, Ebel said.

“It’s clearly going to benefit us if we can help protect somebody or make somebody aware of a situation so they can protect themselves,” he said.