VCU to conduct full test of emergency communications and alerting systems

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 Wednesday, Feb. 5.

The full test will include a one-minute siren activation, along with text messages, Alertus boxes, mass email, digital signs, desktop alerts, 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 surrounding community.

Ten minutes prior to the start of the test, VCU Alert subscribers will receive a message indicating that testing begins 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. VCU conducts full-system tests in the spring and fall semesters; due to updated technologies, the university will no longer conduct monthly siren tests.

Email questions, concerns and feedback about this test to vcualert@vcu.edu.

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

Outdoor sirens: In a real emergency, sirens on the Monroe Park and MCV campuses, and at VCU Police headquarters, will sound to 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 seek secure shelter immediately and to receive additional information.

Text messages: These messages 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. 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 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 emergency.

Social media: Alerting information will 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 on 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 provide full-screen notification on workstations in offices, laboratories, classrooms and study spaces. These messages will contain protective action statements related to the emergency.

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