Methods of Emergency Notification and Communication

Here's a glossary of NC State campus alert tools. These tools are not intended for use in all instances, but are reserved for emergencies that present a broad, immediate and ongoing threat to campus:

Alertus Desktop Notification

The University has the ability to post emergency alerts to individual computers. More information can be found at http://www.ncsu.edu/emergency-information/alertus/

  • Strength— Ability to reach individuals who are located indoors with limited cell phone reception or instant access to email.
  • Limitation— Computer must be connected to a campus network and not in a sleep mode.

Text messaging

  • Strength— It's a message that goes directly to the recipient.
  • Limitation— The number of characters in a text are limited to about 140, meaning we could only use text messaging as a general alert that would instruct recipients to go to the home page or emergency information page for more details; 15-20 minutes is as fast as 40,000 text messages can be delivered and in a real emergency the system might be slowed by increased cell phone activity

Home page message:

The university uses two spaces on the home page for alerts. In a "major" emergency, the page would contain only emergency communications. In a minor emergency, the block near the center-right of the page would be utilized.

  • Strength — Plenty of room to fully flesh out details of the incident as they become available.
  • Limitation— It's dependent on people being at their computers.

Broadcast email:

Broadcast emails are delivered to all official University email accounts containing yourUnityID@ncsu.edu. If a different email address is listed as your preferred address, follow the forwarding instructions provided by OIT to ensure all emails are delivered to the intended address.

  • Strength — Could be a more thorough explanation of the situation than would be included in a text message.
  • Limitation– Like text messaging, not as fast as one individual emailing another. It could take up to one hour to deliver emails to the roughly 53,000 people who have university email accounts.

Audible alerts

The University has added voice- and siren-enabled towers throughout campus. The towers are designed to broadcast a siren alert to signal to community members who are outside they need to seek emergency information (website, media, etc.).

  • Strengths — Can alert a large area quickly.
  • Limitation— Not intended for those inside buildings, acts as a signal to seek more information.

Emergency Listserv:

Each building on campus has at least one building liaison and most have several. The listsery would be used to provide an email message to the network of building liaisons, which would then spread the word.

  • Strength — Provides a first-person word-of-mouth warning.
  • Limitation— Not as effective in a building directly involved in the emergency.

Campus hotline:

The University uses 513-8888 for a wide range of announcements, including adverse weather and emergency situations.

  • Strength — Easily updated.
  • Limitation— Could be overloaded by callers seeking information in an emergency.

Campus and external media:

Radio Station WKNC-FM (88. 1), the Technician (Technicianonline.com), Nubian Message (ncsu.edu/numbian) and WolfBytes Television (Ch. 85), as well as the Raleigh print and broadcast media, likely would cover or include information about emergencies on campus.

  • Strength — Easily accessible.
  • Limitation — Might not be as accurate or up-to-date as sources maintained by the university.

Crime alerts:

Used by campus police to send information to campus and seek assistance from the campus in situations involving a localized crime.

  • Strength — Could be a more thorough explanation of the situation than would be included in a text message.
  • Limitation — Because police must ensure the accuracy of the evidence and witness and victim accounts, crime alerts may be delayed by an hour or more.


Messages can be delivered to electronic billboards located in common areas across campus. There are 345 billboards on campus.

  • Strength — Allows for instantaneous updates and may provide similar information as the home page.
  • Limitation — People must be in the vicinity of the billboard to see alert.

For periodic updates about campus safety initiatives, visit the University web page http://www.ncsu.edu/emergency-information/ and view the information, Orientation to Emergency Preparedness and Procedures. We are committed to working with all members of the university community in continuing to make NC State a safe place to live, work and learn.