By Barbara Young
University police have a new sidekick in the battle to keep students safe: StoutAlert. The new StoutAlert system, which all University of Wisconsin–Stout students received an email about on March 3, 2014, is meant to keep students out of harm’s way while they are on campus.
“It is our campus emergency notification system,” explained Lisa Walter, chief of police at UW–Stout. “It is how we communicate to students, faculty and staff that are here on campus when something is happening and whether or not they need to respond.”
Emergency alert systems have become federally required on all campuses due to incidents in the past, such as the one at Virginia Tech. A Federal mandate requires the campus to be able to reach all community members in an emergency.
StoutAlert replaces the previously used FlashBrief, which is installed on all UW–Stout laptops, but no longer functions. The new system is better and faster, according to Walter.
“Rave Wireless, the company managing the StoutAlert system, allows me to type in one message, click on what I want the delivery tools to be and hit send,” Walter said.
“If we have a critical incident that is happening, I am going to have officers responding to the situation,” she said. “We are going to need to get a message out to campus quickly.”
The system simplifies the means of transmitting emergency messages for the police force and is better equipped at keeping students safe. StoutAlert sends the same message to the UW–Stout News Facebook page, UW-Stout official Facebook page, the UW police Facebook page, UWStout Twitter, Stoutcops Twitter, campus wide email and cell phones.
By programming a cell phone number into the system students will be able to be notified of critical circumstances anywhere on campus, as they are more likely to check their phones before their email.
Some students may be a bit wary about giving out their personal cell numbers, but Walter assured that StoutAlert would only be used for the “big stuff.”
“I’m not going to tell you when a band is coming down at the Memorial Student Center,” said Walter. “That’s great stuff, but this is managed by emergency communications.”
In addition, students don’t have to worry about their number remaining in the system long after they have graduated. Rave Wireless communicates electronically with Access Stout on a nightly basis, so once you are no longer registered for classes, your number is no longer on the StoutAlert system. All information is completely confidential and will only be used to keep students safe, so really what do you have to lose?
Within a year, Walter hopes to have the system connected to the flat screens found in many common areas. Additionally, Walter wants to connect StoutAlert to deliver audible alerts through the soon-to-be upgraded tornado sirens.
In the meantime, Walter expressed the importance of entering a cell phone number into the system.
To register a cell phone number or email address, follow the steps below:
- Visit http://www.uwstout.edu/healthandsafety/em/cc.cfm
- In the right hand corner under the UW–Stout banner, there is a box labeled StoutAlert. Click on “Login to view or change notification preferences in StoutAlert.”
- Fill in your usual username and password for all UW–Stout logins.
- This will bring you to the page that allows you to change, add or remove cell phone numbers or email addresses. (University assigned e-mails may not be removed due to federal law.)