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Emergency Beacons Pilot Completed on UH Campus

Published on: January 13, 2009

Note: This story may not be current. It is part of the IT News Archive, and exists as a historical document.

Nine emergency beacons have been installed and tested. Information Technology created a report on the testing, with the UH Emergency Management Committee now evaluating results and report conclusions.

When an emergency arises, the beacons from Alertus, Inc., can be programmed to flash red lights so all individuals, including the hearing impaired, can be alerted. Screens on the beacons enable scrolling text messages to alert people to emergency situations and advise on how to respond. The beacons also have a siren.

Beacons are installed at Agnes Arnold Hall, the Department of Public Safety, the Information Technology Availability Center, Moody Towers residential halls, and in Science and Engineering classrooms.

The beacons can operate in many venues, including assembly rooms and halls, and even in stadiums, according to James Savage, manager of the Information Technology Availability Center (ITAC), who served as project manager for the Alertus pilot. Sara Baber, director, Academic Technologies was project sponsor for the pilot.

"Beacons can be activated by or through a WiFi, Ethernet, or FM signal," James explained.

Using Alertus, "authorities can let people know if there's an emergency within 15 seconds," according to Alertus founder Jason Volk.

The displays can easily draw attention with their sirens and lights. Messages streamed over the displays are controlled by a centralized system that emergency managers can activate from anywhere. "The warnings can alert, notify, and communicate emergency instructions over an individual beacon in a classroom, over multiple beacons on many floors in a building, or campus wide," James said.

The beacons can also be used to transmit messages in non-emergency situations.