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Ohio State makes improvements to Buckeye Alerts

Buckeye Alerts notifies the campus community of emergencies occurring on and near campus. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

Two years after the November 2016 attack, when an Ohio State student ran a car into a crowd of pedestrians and proceeded to attack those nearby with a kitchen knife before being shot and killed by University Police, Ohio State continues to make improvements to its safety communications.

Robert Armstrong, Ohio State’s director of emergency management and fire prevention, said while Buckeye Alerts are already quick and effective, the university is always looking to make upgrades, like including Buckeye Alerts on new platforms such as desktop computers and the Ohio State mobile app.

“I think we did a really good job on Nov. 28, 2016. We were able to get our first message on its way out to the campus community in about 50 seconds,” Armstrong said. “But we’re still always looking to improve.”

If a Buckeye Alert is administered by the university, it will appear on many of the desktop computers around campus. Additionally, if the Ohio State app is installed on a student’s phone with push notifications enabled, a notification will pop up with the alert.

Rave Guardian, a free mobile app, is another new safety resource for students to use both on and off campus. The app, which is also capable of delivering Buckeye Alerts, is a GPS tracker. Dan Hedman, university spokesman, said the user is able to enter a virtual “guardian,” such as a parent or roommate, to watch them travel from one point to another. If the user doesn’t arrive at the set destination within the set time frame, the guardian will be notified.

“It’s a good way to have someone follow you when you’re out walking, especially after dark,” Hedman said. “Maybe you’re by yourself and you just want someone to keep an eye on you.”

Rave Guardian’s capability to send quick Buckeye Alerts also makes it an effective resource. Hedman said when Ohio State sends a Buckeye Alert, it will deliver the message to the Rave Guardian in “about five seconds.”

“So instead of waiting 30 seconds or five minutes for a text message to come through, you’re now getting that message within just a few seconds,” Hedman said.

Armstrong said although sending alerts solely through text messages is effective, every improvement the university makes to the emergency communication systems contributes to the effort of keeping the university community safer.

“We try to find as many avenues as possible to be able to communicate with the campus community when there’s an emergency,” Armstrong said. “Another tool in the toolbox, if you will.”

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