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Penn State Transitions to New Emergency Notification System

by on June 26, 2014 6:40 AM

In a matter of days, PSUTXT will be a thing of the past.

At the stroke of midnight on July 1, the university will no longer use PSUTXT. PSUAlert will be the sole emergency alert system.

This change will take place at all Penn State campuses, with the exception of Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport. Subscribers can still receive alerts by text message and email.

“PSUAlert, as is the case with PSUTXT currently, will play a critical role in Penn State’s emergency communications plans,” says Steve Shelow, assistant vice president for Police and Public Safety. “The system’s new capabilities will further strengthen our ability to quickly reach as much of our University community as possible when emergencies occur, so that people can make informed decisions about their own safety.”

Penn State spokesperson Reidar Jensen says  the move is the result of a multi-year project by the Office of Emergency Management. The focus has been on ensuring the university's emergency messaging system is up-to-date and incorporates the best practices of peer institutions.

The biggest change is PSUAlert's enhanced messaging capabilities, including phone-based voice alerts. The new system will utilize social media, integrating the alerts with the campus Facebook and Twitter accounts.

All students, faculty members and staff members at every campus are required to receive PSUAlert messages at their Penn State email account. A test-run last week saw the delivery of more than 155,000 messages through email, Jensen says.

Approximately 140,000 individuals were subscribed to the PSUTXT system. Since the launch at the end of May, more than 30,000 mobile phone numbers were entered into the PSUAlert system. Jensen says he expects the number of mobile subscribers to continue to rise. To sign up for the system, click here.

Those outside of the university, including the media and State College residents, are not able to sign up for the PSUAlert system. Jensen says this follows the stipulations outlined in the Clery Act, which requires that Penn State reach the entire campus community as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency.

Students, faculty and staff will be able to enter family member contact information to their PSUAlert accounts if they want. They will be asked to limit the addition of others’ contact information when possible. To enter family information into the system click HERE.

"In an emergency, seconds count," Jensen says. "The larger the number of subscribers to PSUAlert, the longer it will take emergency messages to reach those who are directly in Penn State’s care – our students, faculty and staff."

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Jessica Tully recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in journalism and political science. She is a frequent contributor to StateCollege.com and has also reported for USA TODAY, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Onward State and The Daily Collegian.
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