(NewsUSA) – Rusty Bruns demonstrated Charleston Southern
University's new rapid emergency notification system by typing a text message and sending it to
himself. About 45 seconds later, his office phone and cell phone rang. The typed message had been
converted to a voice message which Bruns, the Charleston-South Carolina school's chief information
officer, could listen to on either phone.
If a true emergency befalls the campus, he said, he could send a message within minutes
to the school's 3,500 students, faculty and staff members. Each person in the system can have
emergency notices sent to up to three phone numbers, a pager number and an e-mail address and also
can be notified by text message.
Bruns said university officials decided that the school needed a more comprehensive
notification system to reach students in an emergency after the shootings last year at Virginia
Tech, the need was driven home in February when there was a shooting at the University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign (NIU). The need was was answered by TechRadium's Immediate Response Information
"The goal is for us to reach kids anytime we want, anywhere," Bruns said. "They, like many
school communities, had previously relied primarily on posting updates on the university's Web
"Many schools chose IRIS because, in addition to sending emergency notifications, it
also prints out a report that verifies that the message got to the intended recipient," Bruns said.
"It's not only for safety reasons but because it can protect universities from lawsuits from people
who claim they weren't notified."
Julia Grinn, a senior from Rochester, Ind., included her cell phone number as well as her
husband's and mother's cell phone numbers in the system.
If something dangerous is happening on campus, "our families will know immediately,
and that brings a lot of comfort to students and their parents," she said.
She requested that IRIS also send her a text message. Grinn said the best way to reach
most students is by text message.
She expects it will mostly be used to notify students about natural disasters, like
hurricane and tornado warnings. Some parents appreciate the new system even more than