GVPD advises students to opt-in to emergency text notifications

Courtesy / GVSUAlert

Courtesy / GVSUAlert

Laureen Horan

As winter approaches and weather starts to become more intense and dangerous, the Grand Valley Police Department, along with University Communications, is encouraging students to opt-in to emergency text message alerts. 

“We use a number of techniques to reach students, faculty, and staff — text, voice messaging, and email are the most common and we will also use loudspeakers, radio and television announcements, and person to person engagement when those are the best way to inform,” said Vice President for University Relations Matt McLogan. 

According to officials at GVPD, text message is the most efficient way to get emergency notifications. 

“Right now, all students are already going to receive emails for emergency alerts, but we really want to encourage students go log into banner and opt-in to receive text message alerts as well,” said GVPD Sergeant William O’Donnell. 

According to O’Donnell, it can take up to five minutes for all the emails, approximately 28,000 of them, to be sent out. Text messages can reach students and faculty in under a minute. 

“Only about 40 percent of faculty, staff and students combined are signed up to receive text message alerts,” O’Donnell said. 

On Friday, Nov. 2, GVSU will be conducting a tornado drill wherein they will also do an emergency alert test. Students will hear the tornado drill over the loudspeakers, but also receive a test email, text, and every Grand Valley computer will have a desktop alert pop-up. The downtown Grand Rapids campus won’t do the tornado drill, but will also receive the emergency notifications.

“We hope (the emergency drill) underscores the importance of safety communication and reminds those who’ve not familiarized themselves with this essential service to do so. Winter weather is just around the corner and we will use our communications platforms to inform the campuses if and when inclement conditions affect university operations,” McLogan said. 

If you’re using a computer on the GVSU network, you will receive a notification on the screen that will cover most of the screen. Just click on the “acknowledge” button on the screen and it will go away. 

According to GVPD Captain Jeff Stoll, they’ve not yet had to use the emergency test system for a real emergency, they’re just making sure the test notifications work as expected. 

In the event that an emergency does occur, O’Donnell says that the GVSU emergency alert website will always have the most updated information. To opt-in to emergency text notifications from GVSU, go to www.gvsu.edu/emergency/ and scroll to the bottom of the page. In the lower right corner, you’ll see the option to update your notification settings.