University Gets SMART with Text Message Alert System

Published: May 9, 2007
Just in time for hurricane season, The University of Tampa will launch an emergency text messaging service that alerts students, faculty and staff in campus emergencies.

“Text messaging is one of the fastest and most reliable methods available to contact University community members in an emergency situation,” said Rod Plowman, vice president of administrative services. “We've determined that our students—the most difficult group to reach—carry cell phones with them at all times, and text messaging is their preferred communication method.”

SMART—Spartan Mobile AleRT—allows messages to get through when phone calls will not and access to computers is limited. Messages are sent directly to registered users’ cell phones. Users will not receive advertisements, and their numbers will not be sold or given away.

The optional service is free, but cell phone customers will pay their usual rate for receiving text messages. They can discontinue the service at any time. To sign up, a customer simply calls from a cell phone and enters an access code that will be provided to students, faculty and staff. The process should take less than a minute to complete.

The new service adds to the University’s many existing modes of information dissemination, including global e-mails, global voicemails, the school Web site, flyers and face-to-face communication. Messages can be sent to thousands of cell phone numbers within minutes, according to Ready Alert, the company providing the service.

“We've been testing the Ready Alert service for the last several months and are impressed with both the system and the company's commitment to its customers,” Plowman said.

Ready Alert’s customers include the U.S. Coast Guard, All Children’s Hospital and Pinellas County Emergency Management. For more information on the service, visit www.readyalert.com, or http://ut.edu/safety.