Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story misreported that officials used a new system to alert people of a crime on Oct. 29. The alerting system is the same, but the protocol has changed to include the expansion of the boundaries in which alerts are sent. It has since been clarified.
The University of Colorado Boulder will add student and employee information to the Everbridge Emergency Alert System, the system used by Boulder police by late November, according to university officials. Officials will also expand the reach of the CU Alerts system to include off-campus areas with high student populations.
CU Boulder officials decided to implement these changes in response to concerns expressed by students, faculty and staff regarding the system after many felt the university didn’t properly notify them of a shooting on University Hill in early October. Shortly after the shooting, University officials said they would work with the Boulder Police Department (BPD) to increase the communication of off-campus events.
“CU Boulder public safety officials have heard from university affiliates, including students, faculty and staff, that they desire to receive more information and emergency notifications about incidents both on and off campus,” CU Boulder Police Department (CUPD) spokesperson Christine Mahoney said in an email statement to the CU Independent.
Everbridge sends users weather advisories and alerts regarding life-threatening situations such as active harmers, fires, floods and other natural disasters that occur in the city of Boulder and unincorporated Boulder county.
Users receive alerts in the form of a call, text, teletypewriter or email if their registered address falls within a certain radius of an incident.
Current students and employees with Boulder residential addresses will have their colorado.edu emails, phone numbers and addresses automatically entered into Everbridge if they do not already have an account.
Officials encourage students and employees to update their information in Buff Portal or MyCUInfo. New student orientation will include information about Everbridge beginning in the spring semester, according to Mahoney.
Once officials upload the information, students and employees will receive a notification to create an account. They can add additional information or choose to opt-out by removing their contact information.
Community members always had the option to opt-in to Everbridge, but officials decided to switch to the opt-out model to help students and employees connect.
“We’re going to set you up for success in receiving this information. If you choose to filter it, modify it, monitor it in a different manner, you’re an adult, you can do that,” said Garry DeJong, the director of the Emergency Management Division at CU Boulder. “From the university perspective, we want to be doing everything we can to keep you safe, and part of that is early notification and messaging.”
In addition to adding university affiliates to Everbridge, CU Boulder will issue alerts for life-threatening incidents that occur off-campus in areas with high student populations. These include the University Hill, Goss Grove, Lower Chautauqua and Baseline Sub neighborhoods.
As these areas do not fall within CUPD jurisdiction, university police will work with BPD to confirm information before sending out an alert.
The expansion will allow CUPD and BPD to work together to send out alerts as fast as possible in these areas.
“Whether it’s CUPD or BPD, when we have an incident going bad, we are very busy, and timeliness can be challenging,” DeJong said. “If we can verify some of that information, maybe we’re able to get messaging out right away. If we’re real busy and the city can pull off an Everbridge, maybe they can get it out earlier.”
Officials used the new system protocols on Oct. 29, when an emergency alert notified students of an armed robbery that occurred in the 2900 block of Colorado Avenue. BPD did not send an Everbridge alert for this incident.
The expansion is still in the trial stage, and community members can contact CU Boulder Emergency Management to provide feedback.
“We’re going to see if this meets the needs that have been asked for by students in that area,” DeJong said. “If we get feedback saying it is missing the target, then we should probably reel that one back and look at a different initiative.”
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Celia Frazier at firstname.lastname@example.org.