Emergency texting for cancelled classes now available

Have you ever come all the way to campus just to find out class was cancelled due to a power outage? Now you can eliminate those frustrations with AWC Alert.

AWC Alert is a system that sends out messages to your cell phone and e-mail, providing you with emergency information. Due to the increased popularity of cell phones and text messaging, the institution has decided to take advantage of this technology as a new form of communication between the college and its students and staff.

Vice President of Information Technology Services, Paul Neuman approved the installation of the system and worked with a committee for several years before installing it.

"We have been looking for different ways of being able to communicate with people," said Neuman. "In the past, we had systems where we could send out messages to all of our students and staff by email, and a banner on the web page that gives information."

Now that cell phones are in the picture, this new system has been created to allow users to get their news much more quickly than going online to check the web page or e-mail. When information needs to be quickly disbursed, Neuman can create the message and send it out to the company which in return distributes it to everyone who has signed up for the service.

"We have a whole series of pre-programmed messages that we can click on and put in some specific site information and send it out in a matter of seconds," said Neuman.

Neuman explained that the service is voluntary, meaning that users have to sign up for it to receive it, and that it is also free to admitted students and employees. However, if users don't have a plan for text messaging, it may have small cost.

"Most phone companies charge .10 or .15 to receive a text if you don't have a plan, but what a small amount to know that you shouldn't be coming to campus or whatever the emergency is here," said Neuman.

He said that signing up for AWC Alert is the best way to be notified of an emergency, especially if the campus is closed or classes are canceled, and students or staff don't want to physically come out to the campus to find out. There are also efforts made to notify everyone when an emergency is over.

"What we try to do is not only send out the emergency message, but whenever the emergency is over with, we try to send out another message to let everyone know we are back to normal," said Neuman.

To sign up for the service, users simply click on the "Sign up for AWC Alerts!" icon on the right hand side of the AWC home page. Then they fill out some basic information including an email address to confirm status as a student or staff member and then enter their phone number and service. Finally, they receive a text with a verification code; and, once that is entered on the site, they will receive a confirmation and be a part of the system.

"It is an ongoing effort by the institution to get emergency information into the hands of our students and staff as quickly as possible," said Neuman.

If you are a student or a staff member, you would benefit greatly by signing up for this service as soon as possible to be informed of any emergencies. You can't ask for more convenience than a speedy text message -- unless of course you don't have a phone.

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