Dalhousie usually has a handful of storm closures each winter — in Halifax, Truro or both locations, depending on the storm. And starting later this month, the system Dal uses to communicate in winter storms and other urgent campus events is getting an upgrade.
The current Dal Alert system is being retired after nearly a decade of use. In its place will be a fully integrated system based around DalSAFE — the university’s safety and security app.
Learn more and subscribe: dal.ca/dalsafe
“This is about providing better, more targeted service and ensuring reliable communications should we encounter urgent campus events like major closures, hazards and other significant events affecting the university,” explains Michael Burns, director of security.
Multiple channels for urgent info
Starting in mid-December, in the event of a major situation on campus, a DalSAFE “Campus Alert” will be sent via multiple platforms, including:
- SMS text message (by subscription)
- dal.ca email
- A pop-up banner on the Dal website and myDal portal
- Dal’s social media feeds: @dalnews, @dalsecurity and @dalagriculture
- Push notifications from the DalSAFE mobile app
The idea is to provide the same message across several different platforms, ensuring the Dal community has multiple ways to access the important information.
Alongside, the DalSAFE mobile app (available for iOS, Android and Blackberry platforms) will continue to provide notifications about safety/security on campus, as well as access to services including mobile blue light (to contact Dal Security in the event of a serious incident), Tiger Patrol information, campus maps/parking and more.
Learn more: dal.ca/dalsafe
The DalSAFE app has been part of Dal's safety and security communications mix for five years now, with 8,000-plus subscribers. By expanding it to include the alert system, the result is a single, integrated platform that aims to ensure better, more consistent communications when serious events occur.
Re-subscribe for text messages
Those who are currently signed up to receive Dal Alert messages via SMS text message will need to re-subscribe to continue receiving text alerts going forward.
One of the main reasons for this is that the new system will allow the university to send messages specific to Halifax or Truro. (The previous Dal Alert system was developed prior to the merger with NSAC.)
Other factors that motivated the decision to move to a new platform included having off-site server access in the event of a crisis situation affecting Dal’s own servers; allowing campus employees without Dal NetIDs to subscribe to text alerts; and easy integration with Dal’s social media channels.
As for timing on the changeover, Dal Alert will continue to be used through mid-December, at which point future campus alert messages will be sent through DalSAFE as described above.
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