UNI Alert FAQ


What is the UNI Alert System?

The UNI Alert System notifies the campus community of emergencies and threats to physical safety in emergency situations: tornado, violence, hazardous material incident, cancelled classes, university closure, etc. Notification is by cell phone, landline phone, e-mail, the UNI Facebook page, UNI Twitter feed and text-message.

 

How does the UNI Alert System work?

UNI Alert allows UNI administrators to send recorded emergency messages (“UNI Alerts”) to students, faculty and staff by cell phone, landline phone, e-mail, and text-message within minutes.

 

When a threat or campus emergency is identified, UNI Alert uses contact information from the university’s official directory data (updated via MyUNIverse) to simultaneously send thousands of messages directly to students, faculty, and staff using cell phone numbers, home phone numbers, office phone numbers and e-mail. The entire campus community can be notified in about 20 minutes.

 

UNI Alert is built upon the Blackboard Connect ® System, developed specifically for schools, colleges and universities.

 

How do I sign up to receive UNI Alerts?

You don’t. The system automatically includes all current students, faculty, and staff located on campus, based on their presence in the UNI Directory. However, you should make sure the UNI Directory has up-to-date information for you. And if you want to be notified by cell phone, voice, and/or text-message, you'll need to make sure your cell number is included in the UNI Alert database. You can update your directory information through MyUNIverse.

 

Is there a fee for the UNI Alert System?

There is no cost to students, faculty and staff for the standard service. Costs for the system were paid by the university.

 

If you elect to accept text messages, depending on your cellular provider and your cellular phone plan, you may incur a cost for incoming text messages. By opting into this UNI service you are agreeing to incur this cost, if any.

 

What phone number will I see on my Caller ID when I receive a UNI Alert?

UNI Alert calls will come from the local area code (319).

 

How does a member of the university community enter contact information so that it can be available for use in emergencies?

Login to MyUNIverse and make sure all of your contact information is up to date. The university is encouraging all of its students and employees to add/update their cell and other phone numbers in the UNI Alert System as soon as possible.

 

May I include contact information for a spouse or significant other, or parent(s), so that they'll be alerted during emergencies?

Any number you include will be notified. However, information is designed for people on or near campus so emergency notifications may not be appropriate for others.

 

For what types of emergencies will I be notified via this system?

UNI Alerts will be utilized in emergencies and situations that present threats to physical safety: tornadoes, violence, hazardous material incidents, cancelled classes, university closure, etc. UNI Alerts are capable of targeting specific groups of people (e.g., occupants of specific buildings potentially affected by a hazardous material incident or violence).

 

What types of UNI Alert methods are available?

UNI Alerts will take the form of recorded messages delivered to the phone numbers, text delivered to the e-mail addresses, messages posted to UNI Facebook and Twitter accounts and text-messages (for mobile devices). Additionally, Blackboard Connect is continuously exploring other communication/notification interfaces, such as instant messaging.

 

In conjunction with the UNI Alert System, the Department of Public Safety has installed an outdoor loudspeaker notification system that also will help ensure that those on campus hear alerts and warnings.

 

What is the time frame in which I should expect to receive a UNI Alert?

Circumstances will vary, including the size of the notification audience, the time of day, etc. However, most UNI Alerts by phone or text-message should arrive minutes after being initiated. E-mail UNI Alerts serve largely as a backup/supplemental mechanism and typically take longer to be delivered. The goal is to have all contacts made within 20 minutes of being initiated.

 

How can the UNI Alert System reach thousands of people in just minutes?

Blackboard Connect ’s mass notification engine supports the UNI Alert System. Blackboard Connect maintains access to tens of thousands of phone lines originating from multiple locations throughout the United States to ensure that its clients' communications are delivered quickly and efficiently. Moreover, Blackboard Connect employs sophisticated call throttling logic to identify the proper schematics needed to deliver calls based upon whatever congestion the local telecommunications providers are experiencing at the moment calls are being attempted.

 

Who is responsible for declaring an emergency and sending a UNI Alert?

The Department of Public Safety usually will initiate emergency notifications, although the Office of the President and University  Relations will have the authority and ability to issue UNI Alerts as well. If you have an emergency, or encounter an emergency situation on campus, you should immediately call 911.

 

Where do I go for information about an emergency situation?

Emergency information will be available from the UNI home page at http://www.uni.edu.

 

If I input my cell phone number, will it be published?

No. If you input your cell phone number in the [Additional Phone] or [Cell Phone to receive text-message] fields it will not be viewable by others.

 

However, if you input your cell phone number in a different field, for example as your local residence phone number because you do not have a landline, it may be viewable by others unless you set the appropriate publication restrictions in the system. (See next question for further information.)

 

What should I do if I use my cell phone as my home phone (i.e., I don't have a landline at home)?

You can input your cell phone number in both your home phone or your [Additional Phone] fields. (In an emergency, duplicate phone numbers are automatically reduced to a single number to be called by the system, as described below.)

 

If you don’t want your telephone number to be published, you should ensure that your privacy restrictions are set to "Restrict Access - Yes".

 

Will Blackboard Connect share UNI's information with anyone?

No. Blackboard Connect does not sell, lease, share, or rent personally identifiable information (names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) to any companies or persons outside of Blackboard Connect  or Blackboard Connect  service providers.

 

Does the system support numeric pagers?

No, the system does not support numeric pagers at this time. However, Blackboard Connect is continuously exploring other communication/notification interfaces.

 

My contact information is up to date. Can I test my ability to be notified to make sure the system will work for me?

We do not have the means to provide an on-demand test notification for individuals at this time. However, we test the system campus-wide at regular intervals.

 

What action should I take if I do receive a UNI Alert?

Detailed instructions on where to go for additional information will usually be included in the UNI Alert.

 

Help spread the word by telling those around you what’s happening. (Word of mouth is an important form of notification.) Doing this by word of mouth (vs. by phone) leaves more phone lines open for the system to utilize.

 

Should I attend classes (or come to work) if there is an extreme weather condition?

The University Policies and Procedures 4.07 covers this. Individuals should use good judgment and avoid serious risks in traveling to campus or in attending classes. If university classes are cancelled students should not report to class.

 

I recently graduated or left the university and/or no longer wish to receive UNI Alerts. How can I ensure that I won't be notified?

Your status in the official university data dictates whether or not you are in the population set to receive UNI Alerts in the event of an emergency, and this status (and thus your presence in the UNI Alert System) is updated regularly. Only active students, faculty, and staff, who are normally on campus, are in that population set, so you shouldn’t need to take any action when leaving the university.

 

Are Allen Nursing and Hawkeye Community College students living in the residence halls included in the UNI Alert System?

Yes. All students living on campus or taking UNI courses will have access to this system.

 

How are duplicate phone numbers handled?

Some people may use their cell phone as their home phone (i.e., they don’t have a landline at home) and thus have the same phone number listed as their home phone and additional phone. Similarly, some phone numbers may be shared by multiple people (e.g., a shared phone at work, or by roommates in an apartment). To eliminate unnecessary/redundant phone calls during an emergency, the system will automatically reduce all occurrences of duplicate phone numbers to single, unique phone numbers, before initiating a mass notification.