With a digital flood of communication, Princeton tested the Connect-ED emergency notification system around 1 p.m. Friday. Students who added their phone numbers through SCORE received a test message in the form of calls and text messages.
The Connect-ED test, which began at 12:58 p.m., included 14,591 calls to phones, over 14,000 emails and 896 text messages. Of the calls, 86 percent were successfully delivered, with 7581 going to answering machines and 4869 to people, University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt '96 said. Reasons for unsuccessful deliveries ranged from phones not being picked up to busy signals.
Additionally, 61 percent of the deliveries were made within 20 minutes, which Cliatt said was "very encouraging."
The notification system can, for each person, contact up to six phone numbers, two email addresses and a separate text messaging address.
About 11,700 of 12,000 people in the University's student and employee databases had registered their personal contact information on SCORE to be included in the system test.
"A large majority of our undergraduate students and graduate students as well took the time to register their information, especially since only about 10 percent of the students had their information in the system before we asked for it," Cliatt said.
"It really required members of the community to get involved, since it was a voluntary process," she added.
Cliatt noted that Connect-ED was only the most recent addition to the Princeton emergency response system. "Overall, I do think it's important to stress, this is not the only way we notify members of the community — this is part of the overall strategy," she said.
Robin Izzo, who managed the test for the Emergency Preparedness Task Force (EPTF), declared the test a success in a University press release.
Connect-ED comes as the latest addition to the Princeton emergency system, which includes web announcements, emails, an automated message line and the Tiger TV alert system. The EPTF (Emergency Preparedness Task Force) looked into Connect-ED when it discussed ways to improve responses to various crises and emergencies.
"The blackout several months ago showed us that we needed a better way to communicate with students," Cliatt said. "We were putting up posters and sending emails to try to alert students to the blackout and give them instructions on what to do, but obviously that is not an efficient or effective way to send out information."
In the event of an emergency, University officials can use the Connect-ED system to send out campus-wide messages to all students, faculty and staff. The system also allows for messages to be sent only to people in certain groups, such as a single residential college or dorm.
Natasha Rabe, the chief marketing officer for NTI, the company that owns and runs Connect-ED, said that Princeton is one of many colleges to use the system.
"There are between 75 and 80 campuses using the Connect-ED system," Rabe said. "We send between 20 and 25 million time-sensitive voice calls a month."
The system will cost two to three dollars per student per year, with unlimited messaging.
The Connect-ED notification system marks a change from previous systems, which required students to actively seek notifications by checking email or listening to the radio, rather than having messages sent to their room or mobile phones.
Students expressed mixed reactions to the new notification system.
Brian Brown '07 said that as an outgoing senior, he chose not to register his cell phone. As a result, the only notification he received was via email. He was not sure that email was sufficient to prevent a sudden emergency.
"If it's something that doesn't require instant response, I suppose," Brown said. "The problem with email is that you have to be at a computer."
Luisa Zhou '10 had trouble with the system from the start. "When I first got the email, I tried to sign up for it, but it was really troublesome and I couldn't get it to work, so I couldn't get myself in," she said. She plans to try and enter herself into the system again.
She also expressed doubt about the instantaneous notification the system promises. "How do you have the system give everyone a phone call at the same time?"
In the case of an emergency, 20 minutes can make all the difference.
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