Emergency Notification

This post is filled with sarcasm, so reader beware…

Tonight, there was a power outage on campus at U of I.  I know this because I got a text message from the campus’ new emergency notification system.  Power was also restored tonight and classes will be held tomorrow.  I know this because I got another text message from the emergency notification system.

Now, I understand the second one…if you notify people that there’s a gunman on campus, you should definitely notify them when he’s finished.

However, I disagree with the invocation of the emergency notification system (ENS) in the first place.  Would you fire up the warning sirens for this?  Would you flip the radio’s emergency notification system for a power outage?  Is anyone’s life in danger here?

If it was a power outage when it was -10 and people were going to freeze to death and you’re calling for donations of blankets or places to stay to keep people warm, I understand.  It was 40+ degrees this evening…I don’t think anyone was going to freeze to death.

The people affected by the power outage already knew that the power was out…they didn’t need a text message telling them that the power was out.  If they didn’t realize what was going on before you sent out the message, then I fear that they may not be able to figure out how to use their phone to read the message.

The content of the message was an even bigger joke.  Y0u’ve just pointed out the obvious situation, that the power is out, and you follow that up by telling those affected to tune into their local media to find out more.  THEY DON’T HAVE POWER, HOW THE F*** ARE THEY GOING TO TUNE IN TO CHECK OUT THE LOCAL MEDIA?

When I got the message, I promptly tuned into my local media.  Over the course of the next 30 minutes, the only further information that I received was that the T.I. concert at the Assembly Hall was cancelled.  I could be mistaken, but isn’t the Assembly Hall run by an entity outside of the University?  Why are we sending emergency notifications out that tell people to tune into their local media just to learn that a concert being put on by an entity outside of the University is cancelled?

Aside: Apparently email is back up, as I just got my email notifications for these events.  The email subject line for the original message, which doesn’t get sent out via text because there are no subject lines, is: “Emergency!”  HAHAHAHA.  I don’t think so…

Now the serious part, because while I hate how it was used tonight, I value this service and want to see it used correctly:

I remember a few years ago when MASSMAIL was starting to get a reputation for being overused and, as a result, ignored.  When the signal to noise ratio drops, people start ignoring it.  Tonight’s use of the emergency notification system is noise.  It’s pointless and having this be the first system-wide use of the new system gives it a bad reputation.  This was not a life-threatening event.  It was not an emergency.  There was no need for system-wide notification.  I’m seriously considering opting out of the new ENS because this first use gives me such a bad impression.  I’m worried that the powers that be will use this as a new way to spam status updates to people.  Just because you can use a technology doesn’t mean that you should use the techonolgy.  🙁

Also, if I didn’t have a text messaging plan, I’d be pissed that I had to pay $0.20/message for something so useless.

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