UWSP Unveils Pointer Alerts System

Kyle Florence kflor654@uwsp.edu

This week, a new emergency alert system capable of delivering messages to students’ email and cell phones, as well as residence hall paging systems, university computers and webpages has been introduced.

“Pointer Alerts is a communication system that allows UWSP to communicate with a large group of people—thousands of people—in a very short period of time. When there’s an emergency situation that is an immediate threat, this is a system to alert you,” Executive Director of University Relations and Communications Kate Worster said. “You’ll get a very brief message, and the idea is that when you get one of these messages, pay attention and do whatever it tells you to do.”

This new emergency alert system is designed to reach as many members of the university community as possible in the shortest amount of time possible. The goal of the updated system is to effectively provide information about emergency situations requiring immediate action.

Though current emergency procedures are up to date, Worster explained that Pointer Alerts is both a necessary and inevitable change due to its unparalleled efficiency.

“Prior to having this system, this was all done as individual steps, so you can imagine how we’ve been able to reduce the amount of time it takes us to communicate. But, then again, when you’re in a real emergency situation, seconds can make a difference,” Worster said.

According to Director of Safety and Loss Control Jeff Karcher, the alert system is currently in the latter stages of testing and could be employed before the end of this academic year.

“We are currently testing internally, and we have been for the last few weeks,” Karcher said. “This system has been utilized by other UW campuses throughout the system, so there’s a little bit of testing out there that we’ve evaluated.”

Karcher also said the first full-scale test of Pointer Alerts will take place in sequence with the National Weather Service’s tornado drill on Friday, April 19 at 1:45 p.m. If this drill proves successful, it is likely that the alert system will be implemented as early as the following Thursday, April 23.

To ensure the individual safety of the entire campus, Worster emphasized the importance of regularly updating and maintaining the personal contact information found on all UWSP accounts.

“The most important thing that we need everyone to know right now is that we need you to make sure your cell phone information is correct and make sure we have an accurate person to contact in case of an emergency,” Worster said. “In the event of a real emergency, we want things to go as smoothly as they possibly can.”

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