Thursday, March 24, 2011

Active Shooter

On campus we have an alert system that sends out emails and, if you sign up, text messages in the event of emergencies.  These can include updates on things like crime and weather.

This morning I, along with everyone else on campus, received the following message via the alert system:

Subject: Active Shooter/Threat

Body of Message:
Active shooter at BUILDING NAME/INTERSECTION. Escape area if safe to do so or shield/secure your location.
Kind of scary right?  Especially since the message did not specify where this threat might be located.

Then, 8 minutes later we all received the following message:

Subject: All Clear

Body of Message:
"The previous message was sent in error. For details, please read forthcoming MassMail."
Kind of a big error don't you think?  During that 8 minute span, facebook and twitter blew up with people panicking.

This whole alert system doesn't really seem to be working very well. Today's example is probably the most extreme failure, but since it has been implemented we get regular updates on crimes that happen on or around campus. These can range from petty theft to more serious offences like assaults and attempted rape.

I think this is a case where more information may not necessarily be a good thing.  People seem to think we have had an increase in crime on campus. However, crime is actually down according to some people "in the know" that I have talked to, it's just that now anything that happens is more directly publicized.

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