Students and faculty at the University of Iowa will soon have the capability to receive messages on their cell phones in the event of a campus emergency. U of I spokesperson Steve Parrott say the $60,000 notification system, called "Hawk Alert," will allow text-enabled cell phone users to sign up for instant messages. Administrators began looking for an emergency system after a tornado hit Iowa City in April of 2006.
Parrott says the university will still use radio and TV to notify staff and students of emergencies, "but now that so many people carrying cell phones with them, we think this will just give us an extra step to get the word to people." The University is also installing five new civil defense towers on campus.
But these will be a little different," Parrott says, "they’ll also have a voice message capability. So, not only will the siren go off, but we might have a voice message saying ‘tornado warning, seek shelter immediately’." U of I students and faculty can sign up to receive the emergency text messages on-line, at HawkAlert.uiowa.edu .