New emergency text message system in place

Kevin Gareau

The university has unveiled a new text alert system to make students more aware of campus emergencies, school closings and delays when they’re not near traditional sources of information such as a television or radio.

When one of these scenarios does happen, students, staff and faculty will receive a text message on their cell phone alerting them of the situation.

The program is called Flash Alerts. It is a system provided by Rave Alerts, which is a company specializing in both emergency and non-emergency alert systems.

In the event of a closing, delay or emergency, the text message will be sent by either the public safety department, information services, or university communication and marketing. To receive an alert, a person must be signed up for the service.

Judy Molnar, director of information services, said the focus of the service is to alert students to emergencies. She said it was developed as a result of the Virginia Tech shootings, and besides emergencies, school closing or delays, no other kinds of messages will be sent via Flash Alerts.

“When Virginia Tech happened, we wanted to do something as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of the students,” Molnar said.

Molnar said Flash Alerts will be used in conjunction with the university’s other emergency alert methods, including verbal alerts via loudspeaker, e-mail alerts and posted alerts on FlashLine. In addition, the university has signed a contract with Time Warner Cable to broadcast emergency alerts on all televisions on campus.

In the event of a closing, delay or emergency, the alert would be sent at the same time as loudspeaker and e-mail alerts. Molnar said staff will be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will be ready to act quickly to send out alerts as soon as possible.

Since launching the Flash Alerts Web site Aug. 20, more than 300 students have signed up. Molnar said she expects that number to rise as more students move back to campus.

Junior chemistry major Brian Manor said he likes the idea of the Flash Alerts service.

“I definitely think it could help, especially since Kent is such a big commuter school,” Manor said.

He added that he doubts he will actually use the service, however, because he rarely uses text messaging.

Molnar said she hopes the service won’t have to be used.

“We hope there’s never an emergency significant enough for us to have to use this,” Molnar said.

If such an emergency does occur, the university hopes to be ready for it, she said.

Flash Alerts

How do I sign up for Flash Alerts?

To sign up for Flash Alerts, students should visit

What do I need when signing up?

All students need to sign up is their FlashLine user ID, password and their mobile phone number.

Is signing up for Flash Alerts free?

Flash Alerts is free, though standard text messaging rates do apply.

Source: Judy Molnar, director of information services.

Contact safety reporter Kevin Gareau at [email protected].