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Friday, September 24, 2021

UF utilizes multiple platforms to alert community

When two men and a gun were spotted in a Shands at UF garage last week, cellphones all over campus started buzzing with rapid-fire UF Alert text messages and emails.

A study released last week by mStoner and Slover Linett Strategies found that many colleges aren’t fully utilizing social media  — especially when there’s a crisis happening, according to more than half of the 1,187 respondents.

But UF makes an effort to get emergency messages out quickly in as many ways as possible, Bruce Floyd, UF social media specialist, said.

The university uses the InformaCast system, which allows the same sentences to be sent in different ways.

Police dispatchers have access to the system, Floyd said.

“Some people might not get a text message, but they get the tweet,” he said.

In situations like the Aug. 30 incident, UPD decides on which media the alert should be displayed.

In addition to text and Twitter, there is a Facebook page for UF Alerts.

A speaker system in almost every classroom and office on campus can also broadcast audio alerts.

UF’s InformaCast system has been in place for about a year, Emergency Management Coordinator Kenneth Allen said.

The messages are based on prewritten templates, he said.

Abbreviations are used to fit the information within text message character limits.

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If students aren’t getting text alerts, Allen recommended they check the emergency contact information they entered on UF’s websites.

First-year mechanical engineering graduate student Zhiwei Huang, 26, said he thinks the way UF sends its alerts is effective.

Huang said he doesn’t mind getting multiple messages during crises because they’re always about something important.

“It’s always good to know when something bad is happening around you,” he said.

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