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VCU to conduct test of emergency communications

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(Editor's note: This advisory has been updated to reflect a change in the time of the test to 11:45 a.m.)


Virginia Commonwealth University will conduct a full test of its emergency communications and alerting systems, including 10 sirens throughout the Monroe Park and MCV campuses, at 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 6. 

VCU Police had originally scheduled the test for noon, however, the time is being adjusted to accommodate an event downtown by the Division of Capitol Police.

The full test will include the sirens along with text messages, Alertus boxes, mass email, digital signs, desktop alert, LiveSafe, social media and VCU website information — all part of a multichannel system for communicating emergency information to VCU students, faculty, staff, visitors and the community. 

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

The following list contains more information about each of these alerting technologies: 

Outdoor sirens: In a real emergency, the 10 sirens on the Monroe Park and MCV campuses will sound for four minutes to signal that an immediate, life-threatening emergency has occurred or may be imminent. The purpose of the siren is to alert people outside of campus buildings to immediately seek secure shelter and to receive additional information.

Text messages: These messages are short, protective action statements that will contain a link to http://alert.vcu.edu/, where additional information is located. Students, faculty, staff, parents and community members may sign up for VCU’s text message alert system at http://alert.vcu.edu/signup/ to receive information about campus emergencies and cancellations. 

Alertus: These small yellow devices are strategically installed 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 will scroll on the screen during the threatening event.

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

Social media: Alerting information will be posted to university social media pages, including Twitter and Facebook.

Digital signage: Digital displays are located throughout campus with a particular focus in high-traffic areas. These signs will 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) now support full screen notification on computer workstations in offices, laboratories, classrooms, and study spaces.  These messages will contain protective action statements related to the event.

LiveSafe: All VCU LifeSafe users will receive a “push” message through the VCU LiveSafe application that will also contain protective action statements related to the emergency.In addition to the semester test, monthly checks of the siren system are conducted at noon on the first Wednesday of each month.