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VCU Testing Sirens and Other Alert Systems on Wednesday

The full test will include a one-minute siren activation, along with text messages, Alertus boxes, mass email, digital signs, desktop alerts, LiveSafe, VCU Mobile, social media and VCU Alert website information — all part of a multichannel system for communicating emergency information to VCU students, faculty, staff, visitors and the surrounding community.

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Virginia Commonwealth University will conduct a full test of its emergency communications and alerting systems, including sirens, on the Monroe Park and MCV campuses and at the VCU Police Department’s headquarters, 224 E. Broad St., at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

The full test will include a one-minute siren activation, along with text messages, Alertus boxes, mass email, digital signs, desktop alerts, LiveSafe, VCU Mobile, social media and VCU Alert website information — all part of a multichannel system for communicating emergency information to VCU students, faculty, staff, visitors and the surrounding community. (Watch the VCU Alert system video to learn more about how and when police will issue alerts.)

Ten minutes prior to the start of the test, VCU Alert subscribers will receive a message indicating that testing will begin at noon; they also will receive a text message at noon to signify the start of the test. VCU Police will send out a third message to notify subscribers once testing has concluded.

VCU remains committed to supporting a variety of emergency alert technologies to distribute information in a timely and effective manner. These technologies help inform the VCU community of necessary and prudent protective actions in a comprehensive manner.

The following list contains more information about each of VCU’s alerting technologies:

Outdoor sirens: In a real emergency, the sirens on the Monroe Park and MCV campuses, and at VCU Police headquarters, would signal that an immediate, life-threatening emergency has occurred or may be imminent. The purpose of the siren is to alert people outside campus buildings to immediately seek secure shelter and to receive additional information.

Text messages: These messages would contain short, protective action statements to inform subscribers of an active threat to public safety. VCU students, faculty and staff can subscribe to VCU Alert text messaging through the myVCU portal by clicking on “Manage Emergency Alerts” or on VCU’s Alert page. VCU Health team members, parents and community members can sign up on VCU’s Alert page to receive information about campus emergencies and closures.

Alertus boxes: These devices are in classrooms, residence halls and other high-traffic areas throughout campus. They are designed to provide an auditory and visual alert when a threat has occurred or is imminent. Much like text messages, a protective action statement would scroll on the screen during a threatening event.

Mass email: All VCU email account holders would receive an email containing the safety recommendations related to the emergency.

Social media: Alerting information would be posted to VCU’s Twitter account (@VCU) and the VCU Facebook page.

Digital signage: Digital displays are located throughout campus with a particular focus in high-traffic areas. These signs would display the emergency alert and reference information that is posted to Alertus boxes and text messaging.

Desktop alerts: The majority of VCU-supported computers (and many “Mac” products) provide full-screen notifications on workstations in offices, laboratories, classrooms and study spaces. These messages would contain protective action statements related to the emergency.

LiveSafe & VCU Mobile notifications: All VCU LiveSafe and VCU Mobile users would receive a “push” message through the VCU LiveSafe application that would also contain protective action statements related to the emergency.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.