WSU Crisis Communication is currently transitioning to a new and improved system called Coug Alert in order to better notify students of emergencies on campus.
The change came about because of the low percentage of students, staff and faculty signing up for the old program.
Michael Gaffney, director of Office of Emergency Management, said Coug Alert is not a requirement, but WSU strongly encourages students to sign up for the service.
After conducting market analyses, the Office of Emergency Management found that the original company they worked with for the service had just come out with an updated system that matched the needs of the community.
“A: we are upgrading it. B: we work with things that are not crises, so we are renaming it Coug Alert,” he said. “We thought crisis was too strong when we first adopted it.”
The name Coug Alert matches the existing Twitter account, allowing the group to utilize social media and hashtags during emergency situations, Gaffney said.
The new system, while still in the upgrading process, promises new functions that will enhance communication skills.
“It’s easier to manage, and quicker; we can send notifications out in under five minutes,” Gaffney said. “It provides a more robust system of managing small groups instead of the whole campus.”
He said they now have the capacity to experiment with geographics, which help define an area, so those in the area can be notified instead of blanketing the whole campus.
Another new attribute of the program is the ability for non-WSU students to sign up for alerts.
“There will be a separate web access, direct to Coug Alert, that will let individuals sign up,” said Gaffney. “Right now it is difficult for, say, parents to sign up because they don’t have a Zzusis, but the new system will allow a direct link to the portal.”
When students log onto Zzusis on Nov. 18, the system will check if they have applied for emergency notification. If not, they will be redirected to sign up or decline emergency notification before proceeding through Zzusis.