Harvard will conduct the semiannual test of its emergency notification system, MessageMe, Thursday (Oct. 22).
This will be the first test of new enhancements to the system that can now send messages via SMS text and e-mail, and includes the use of RSS feeds, Twitter, and Facebook.
The test will be broadcast midday to more than 20,000 Harvard community members who have signed up for the alert system. Because the MessageMe system automatically confirms who receives the test for system administrators, users will not have to do anything to acknowledge receipt of the test alert and should delete the message after they receive it.
In an actual extreme, campus-wide emergency, users would receive directions about what actions to take to ensure their safety. They might also be asked to pass along important information to others in their immediate area, such as a classroom, lab, dormitory, or playing field.
The University also has provided further training and improved usability as part of recent system developments to address truncated messages that were circulated at the time of the Kirkland House shooting in May. It has also installed a temporary “cell on wheels” tower in the Radcliffe Quad area to address spotty cell phone coverage in that area for AT&T users. Cell reception in the Quad should be fine for AT&T and Verizon users, who make up 72 percent of all MessageMe subscribers.
For members of the community who do not receive a test message due to signal coverage, it is important to remember that MessageMe is one of several alert systems that the University has available to employ in the event of a wide-scale emergency situation. During a crisis, messages also would be posted on the Harvard Homepage and Harvard’s Emergency Communication page; recorded on the special conditions telephone line, 866.496.NEWS; e-mailed to affected groups; and delivered via campus telephones and voice mail.
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 MessageMe Web site or e-mail MessageMe@Harvard.edu.