University of Hawaii successfully tests new emergency communication system

Initial tests focus on crisis coordination; planning for extended outreach underway

University of Hawaiʻi
David Lassner, (808) 956-3501
Information Technology Services
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-9803
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Apr 30, 2007

HONOLULU — The University of Hawaiʻi today successfully tested a new system to provide emergency notifications to personnel who are involved in managing institutional reaction and response in crisis situations. Over 100 individuals throughout the UH system received test phone calls and email messages automatically sent to their contact information.

The test was conducted using the NTI Connect-ED system, which was chosen by the university through a competitive solicitation late last year. Several private schools in Honolulu also use the same product.

The April 30 test involved only emergency coordinators and administrators identified by the UH system or campuses as part of the institutional crisis response teams. UH has long had a sophisticated email distribution capability for all its students and faculty. Connect-ED adds automated distribution of notices by phone and multiple email address capability.

"No single approach can address all kinds of emergencies, so we need to incorporate a variety of strategies and technologies," said David Lassner, UH Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer.

UH officials began considering alternative notification systems after a number of recent events highlighted the need for improvements in emergency communications. Last October‘s earthquake resulted in major power outages impacting many Hawaiʻi providers of email and mobile phone service, as well as the ability of many people to make calls with their fixed line phones.

While the current agreement for use of NTI Connect-ED focuses on communication among crisis management teams, UH also plans to adopt one of the many approaches to providing text messages directly to any of the 60,000 students, faculty and staff who can accept emergency notices on their mobile phones. In addition, UH is looking into less high-tech notification systems such as warning sirens and PA systems.