DPS upgrades crime-fighting with new message alert system

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The Department of Public Safety tested its new Deep Freeze emergency notification program on Friday as part of the TextMU system already in place.

Deep Freeze, a computer software program, allows DPS to broadcast a message over any university computer with the software installed on it. The test is part of the TextMU software campus safety uses to alert students of campus and severe weather emergencies.

Katie Berigan, a lieutenant for DPS and one of the officers who manages the system, said TextMU is part of Marquette’s critical incident management plan and its safety initiatives in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University tragedies from 2007 and 2008 respectively.

“We need to be able to alert students, faculty and staff of situations and events that could impact life and safety, as well as be able to give instruction on how to stay safe in a variety of emergency conditions,” Berigan said. “Deep Freeze is yet another tool for us to reach as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.”

However, Joseph Valenti, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, has reservations about the system.

“I’ve never seen it in action, so I don’t know how long it takes for DPS to show up,” Valenti said. He also said a major flaw in the notification system is the inability to respond to the messages.

Berigan stressed that speed of communication is essential when it comes to emergencies, which is why DPS utilizes a variety of methods to inform everyone.

Besides text messaging, these include email, the university website, university voice mail, Access TV message boards, postings in buildings both on and off campus and use of megaphones or other devices as needed. There are also more than 450 Blue Light Phones around campus for people to call DPS from virtually anywhere in the immediate area.

Telephones, text and email are currently the industry standard on emergency notification, but DPS is always looking for new technologies, Berigan said.

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