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University of California San Francisco

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UCSF Installs WarnMe Emergency Alert Electronic Display Boards

By Herbert Cole and Christopher Jones

Editor's note: This is fourth in a series of stories as UCSF marks National Preparedness Month in September.

If there is an imminent threat to your life or safety from a hazardous material spill, fire, violent protests or an active shooter on campus, UCSF Police (UCPD) and its Homeland Security Emergency Management Division (HSEM) will send an emergency alert to any cell phone, email, pager or text messaging address registered in WarnMe mass notification system.    

However, mobile phones may not be allowed to be on during classroom instruction and visitors to UCSF conference rooms, auditoriums and common areas will not be registered in UCSF’s WarnMe mobile phone warning system. So how do we warn students and visitors in these areas?

The UCSF Police Department is pleased to announce the installation of about 50 electronic display boards at the Mission Bay and Parnassus campuses. The electronic display boards are dedicated devices used to alert the UCSF  community of life threatening or safety events. They work in conjunction with the WarnMe mass notification system. In the event of an emergency, notification can be sent to these alert beacons, which display text, send out a warning siren or flash emergency lights, thus making these compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Alerting devices have been placed in certain classrooms, meeting rooms and common areas including fitness centers and some child care centers. Installation is planned for other locations at Mission Center Building, Laurel Heights, Parnassus and Mission Bay over the next few years with the goal of installing as many of these devices as possible to notify personnel who may not have WarnMe cell phone access during a threat event to life or safety.

Although electronic display boards are being installed, everyone is urged to register their personal and UCSF supplied phone, text, and email addresses at the WarnMe registration website.

Not only will UCSF use WarnMe to warn faculty, staff and students of an emergency, UCSF has used WarnMe to check on the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff and affiliates in the aftermath of an emergency such as the San Bruno PG&E gas explosion, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the Arab Spring where we attempted to contact any individuals traveling overseas. 

WarnMe enables UCSF-registered users to respond to warnings and alerts as to their safety or need for rescue. But you must register your emergency contact information in order for this to work!

September is National Preparedness Month. This is just one example of how UCPD/HSEM is making UCSF Prepared.  For questions on the project, go to the WarnMe FAQ page or contact the Emergency Management Division of the UCSF Police. 

Christopher Jones is director of the Homeland Security Emergency Management Division for the UCSF Police Department.