In a simultaneous test of all emergency communications, State University of New York, Oswego is sending messages via voicemail on campus phones, the carillon outdoor announcement system and the digital signage system.
Forced by the Higher Education Opportunity Act to have some form of emergency communication, colleges in the USA also have to test these systems at least once a year.
The tragic Virginia Tech Massacre in 2007 placed a lot of emphasis on emergency warnings around college campuses. Virginia Tech received criticism after the massacre when it emerged students were arriving at campus, over an hour after the incident started, and walked straight into danger.
Providing emergency messaging in a location such as a college, however, is extremely difficult with the sheer volume of people, all arriving and leaving at different times, makes it incredibly difficult to communicate with them all.
Nearly all messaging systems are flawed in some way. Emails are only useful in emergencies if people are looking at a computer. Whilst voicemail and text messaging systems are only useful if people own a cell phone, have it switched on, and have given the college the number.
Digital signage has some great advantages over other messaging systems. Not only is it instant, able to relay emergency information as soon as it is uploaded. It can also be networked together, ensuring the same message appears on every screen.
With outdoor digital signage at every entrance and outside around campus, and with indoor screens also displaying the message, there is almost zero chance of those arriving at campus during an emergency not being aware.