12:00 AM

Ohio State launches new emergency alert system

COLUMBUS – The Ohio State University has launched a new initiative to contact the campus community through cellular phone text messaging in the event of an emergency. Students, faculty, staff and parents are being encouraged to subscribe to the newly-unveiled Buckeye Alert system, which will provide the Ohio State Department of Public Safety with another tool to keep the campus community informed during an emergency situation.

"This new notification system will give us another option to reach thousands of people who may not be readily available at their computer, classroom or workstation," said Bob Armstrong, director of emergency management and fire prevention at Ohio State. Plans to implement the Buckeye Alert system have been in motion for some time, Armstrong said, but the tragic events that unfolded this past spring at Virginia Tech showed an urgent need for the system at a campus as large as Ohio State.

Using a text messaging system allows subscribers to be informed of emergency situations as soon as possible, no matter where they are located. "Text messaging has become a popular way for people to communicate in today's society," Armstrong said.

The university's goal is to sign up every individual with ties to the university including parents of students.

In addition to text messaging capabilities, Buckeye Alert can also send a pre-recorded phone message instead of a text message. All campus phones including those in offices, classrooms and dormitories are automatically registered for this service.

The system will only be used when public safety and campus officials determine that it is necessary for the campus community to take immediate action to maintain safety. However, alerts will not be sent to warn of severe weather threats. WOSU 820 AM will remain the university's top communication resource during all emergency situations. Other communication options include the university's website, e-mail bulletins and local broadcast media.

The system will be available to anyone affiliated with The Ohio State University's Columbus campus, as well as any of the five regional campuses. Those who wish to subscribe to the Buckeye Alert system can sign up at buckeyealert.osu.edu. Users are required to submit their name, campus location, cell phone number, cell service carrier, e-mail address and university status (student, faculty, staff, parent, etc.). The service is free, but users may be subject to their wireless service provider's text messaging fees. Users can discontinue service at anytime by visiting emnotify.service.ohio-state.edu.