Switching to a new mass notification system can be a challenge for any college or university. It’s a time-consuming challenge to not only get everyone in the campus community into the new mass notification system, but get them to adopt the new system, as well as maintain the information. It can seem a daunting task to transition to another system, no matter what the unique challenges a campus may have, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
In 2016, Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) switched systems when its original vendor was bought and the system in place could no longer be supported. LFCC is located in Northern Virginia and has three campuses located within 45 minutes of each other, as well as smaller learning centers throughout the region. There are 10,600 members of the community including students, faculty, staff, parents, and temporary visitors, all of whom need to receive notifications. In addition to these needs, Richard Crim, Lord Fairfax’s CIO, wanted to take the system to the next level and integrate it into other systems and applications such as digital signage and social media. He also wanted to make sure that the vendor had a history of working with higher education institutions.
The LFCC community receives alerts about various situations, including Clery Act notifications, severe weather conditions, power outages, hazardous material spills, active shooter or intruder incidents, water main breaks and Code Adam, a state law in Virginia that mandates each state building that’s open to the public to have a missing child safety program. According to Crim, transparency is key when it comes to mass notification. “We want to be open to everyone and serve our community,” Crim said. “We want to be transparent with all groups in our community. If something happens on one of our campuses, we want everyone to know about it.”
Transition to New Campus Notification System Improved Emergency Communications
Implementing LFCC Alert, Lord Fairfax’s brand name for their new campus notification system, and loading information about students and others into the new system was a seamless process. The process only took about four hours - the new site was set up, the branding was established, the team did a quick test on a small group, and then messaged everyone with the new system. Everyone from the campus community is on the LFCC distribution alert, and they only can opt out of text notifications, but not email notifications.
The college encourages enrollment into LFCC Alert twice a year, and saw particularly high numbers of enrollment with the new system. The school has also been impressed by the reliability of the system. “I’ve never had an outage...and there are so many ways to send out an alert,” Crim said. “It’s cloud-hosted off of us, so we don’t have to worry about it.”
Keeping mass notification systems working in all kinds of situations is vital to a campus community. Having unlimited administrators and unlimited messaging and reach are a relief for Crim. In addition to Crim, there are 10 authorized administrators who can send out notifications. Student information is automatically synced each semester, and LFCC Alert can be scaled to send out unlimited messages. LFCC’s previous mass notification vendor would charge for the amount of messages and recipients.
Along with the flexibility of the new mass notification system, Crim appreciates the ability to give feedback and discuss new features. “I know what’s going on in the technology, and the platform can tap into any device,” he said. “It’s important to be available on any device no matter what and you don’t have to worry about the interface.”
Learn how you can make the switch to a new robust mass notification system, while staying under budget.
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