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Improvements to Baylor University's Emergency Notification System

Jan. 18, 2011

At 11:15 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17, Baylor University sent the first of two messages to Baylor students, faculty and staff via text, phone and email about a search on our campus for two armed suspects wanted in connection with cash store robberies in Waco earlier in the day. After buildings were thoroughly searched, Baylor police conferred with Waco officers and determined that the suspects had left the campus. An all clear was sent out by text and email at 12:44 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18.

We are grateful that those who got the messages last evening responded swiftly and appropriately. Students who received the alert heeded the warning and stayed indoors and off streets while Baylor and Waco officers were conducting the search. Unfortunately, we have determined that there was a segment of our student population who did not receive the alert. That is unacceptable, and Baylor has investigated the problem to determine how to make certain this error does not happen again.

In its investigation, the Department of Risk Management found that an incomplete data file containing student names, numbers and emails was selected for uploading into our notification system. As a result, some students were left out of the emergency notification.

We are modifying our systems to ensure that this error is not repeated. Specifically, we plan to review the calendar and modify the uploads to pull appropriate data between semesters and automate the import process to run daily, moving away from weekly manual imports.

We also ask that students, faculty and staff update their emergency contact information by logging on to BearWeb at http://bearweb.baylor.edu and following the instructions found at this link: http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/120049.pdf. It is important that we have your most up-to-date contact information, so the university can provide timely notice and/or emergency notifications to the Baylor community.

Again, the Baylor students who received the warning are to be commended for taking the warning seriously and even helping spread the word through their own communications networks. However, the warning did not reach a group of students as it should have, and the university has taken measures to make sure that we do not have this situation occur in the future.

If you should have additional questions regarding emergency notifications, please contact Leigh_Ann_Moffett@baylor.edu or 254-710-6695.

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