Photo By Jeremy Dolinsky
By: Joe Lipovski
The NAIT Alert app is expanding to different screens on campus and Protective Services is trying to make the app more appealing with features such as campus maps, emergency procedures and the virtual safe walk program.
After polling several students in the halls, many say they have very busy schedules and don’t want to take the time to learn a new app. They would prefer the app to be simple and easy.
After a fire in a chemistry lab in February 2017, NAIT introduced NAIT Alert in January of the following year. NAIT Alert was in development for over a year before the fire.
“The fire was not the reason for launching NAIT Alert, but it definitely reconfirmed that the project is the right thing to do,” said April Diver, Manager of Emergency Management and Business Continuity.
NAIT Alert replaced a system that relied on protective services calling or emailing staff regarding an emergency. NAIT Alert can send an emergency message in seconds though the app and on desktop computers.
Due to many false alarms throughout the year, NAIT doesn’t use NAIT Alert for all alarms. Last spring the fire alarm went off on several occasions, but many NAIT students said they didn’t get an alert on the app. NAIT also doesn’t issue an alert for most building alarms because they don’t want it to distract students or staff from the primary alarm.
“We won’t use [NAIT Alert] for building alarms… when the building alarm goes off, we want people to hear that alarm, unless we have more information,” said Diver.
NAIT’s Emergency Management is now working on allowing staff and students to access NAIT Alert on desktops. Although alerts do come up on desktops already throughout campus, there are still some computers that do not display the alert properly.
They are also working on getting alerts on NAIT’s digital monitors throughout campus. The problem they are running into is that not all the monitors on campus are owned by NAIT. Some monitors are owned by NAITSA or other groups on campus. NAIT’s Emergency Management is also working on broadcasting alerts through NAIT’s landlines in classroom and labs.
Currently, approximately 5600 people have the NAIT Alert app on their devices. Diver explains that to maintain that number, Protective Services holds an awareness campaign every term to expand their reach. She also hopes to have one in four people on campus using the app every year.
NAIT does two full-scale alert tests a year. They also do some smaller scale tests throughout each term and some tests occur at night.
Due to the fact that most students are only at NAIT for two years, protective Services hosts activity campaigning throughout the year to get students to download and use the app.
“Our biggest challenge is obviously getting students to sign up for the app and to be aware of it,” said Diver.