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Video: Maroon Alert System May Have Flaws

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)-Colleges, school districts and emergency management agencies all are starting to use text messages and emails to alert people about dangerous situations. But a series of text messages sent this weekend by Mississippi State University shows the systems still have some flaws. When it comes to dangerous situations on the campus of Mississippi State University, many rely on the Maroon Alert to keep them informed.

“The maroon alert system is how we communicate with our faculty, staff and students in case of any type of crisis on the campus,” says Sid Salter.

Depending on the time of day, the Maroon Alerts come in emails, text messages, and even Twitter and Facebook. When shots were reported being fired near the campus early Saturday morning, the university’s system went into action.

“This event happened at about one o’clock in the morning when most people were we would be reaching would be inside and asleep. We decided to go with text message because that’s the way of getting people’s attention and we try to drive them to the university website so that they can follow the incident on the page dedicated to maroon alert information,” says Salter.

The university sent three text messages with updated information. Unfortunately, many state students only received one OR none. Brad McMullan, the President and CEO of bfac.com says issues can occur when text messages like the maroon alerts are sent in short code.

“The most important thing that a university a school and an association can do in an emergency situation is to be able to communicate with the students. Unfortunately, with short code sometimes the message they are sending out can be delayed by two, three, even four hours and that is bad news. But with a long code an 10-digit number when they are sending out a message it can go a whole lot faster,” says Brad McMullan.

It’s a problem industry experts say is being worked on. And It is still unclear why some students did not receive all their alerts. But Salter stresses the safety of students, faculty, and staff are the number one priority.

If you would like to learn more about Maroon Alerts just log onto http://www.emergency.msstate.edu/