The University will test its emergency text-messaging system, MessageMe, on April 16. The test message will be broadcast midday to more than 14,000 Harvard community members who have signed up for the alert system to date.
Users do not have to do anything to acknowledge receipt of the test alert. “Just delete the message after you receive it,” said Stephen Rivers, Telecommunications Operations manager for University Information Systems. “The system will automatically confirm who has received our test alert and provide that data to administrators working with the system here.”
In an actual extreme, campuswide emergency, users would receive directions about actions to take to help ensure their safety. They might also be asked to pass along important information to others in their immediate area, such as a classroom, dormitory, or playing field.
This test will be the largest activation of the system since its inception in August 2007. “We’ve never had an emergency that was extreme enough to require University-wide MessageMe activation, and hopefully we never will,” Rivers said. “To be on the safe side, however, periodically we do need to run tests of this sort.” Plans call for testing twice per year.
MessageMe is one of several alert systems the University would employ in the event of a wide-scale emergency situation. During a crisis, messages would also be posted on the University Web sites http://www.harvard.edu and http://www.emergency.harvard.edu; recorded on the special-conditions telephone line, (617) 496-NEWS; e-mailed to affected groups; and delivered via campus telephones.
Harvard community members are encouraged to sign up for MessageMe, which is free and confidential. Yearly registration with a Harvard PIN is required. To learn more, visit the Web site http://www.messageme.harvard.edu/, and those with questions or concerns about the test may e-mail MessageMe@Harvard.edu.