BY JULIE ROWE
Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 24, 2008
In an effort to make sure students, faculty and staff receive alert e-mails in a timely fashion, the University has reworked its crime alert distribution system.
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Students and employees are now expected to get an e-mail within four hours after an alert is issued, officials said.
Until now, whenever a crime occurred on or near campus, University Police spokeswoman Diane Brown would send an e-mail to the deans and heads of each college and department and ask them to forward the alert to University students and employees.
The Campus Security Act, passed in 1990, requires universities to alert students of violent crimes on or near campus.
However, many people didn’t get these e-mails until hours after they were originally sent, Brown said. Others never got them at all.
The Department of Public Safety will now send e-mail crime alerts directly to all University students and employees. Brown said this change will allow students to learn about incidents earlier and more consistently.
“We recognized that it was not only creating more work for others, but it also was not consistently forwarded on a timely basis,” Brown said. “This will allow us to get out the information about significant crimes in a more timely, efficient and effective way.”
The University’s Administrative Information Services department (MAIS) gave University Police access to e-mail addresses for the entire Ann Arbor campus — about 80,000 people, MAIS Assistant Director Beth Farrell said.
Everyone with a University e-mail address will receive the alert within four hours, she said.
Before, the e-mails were slow going out because the alerts, sent to every individual in the University's large database, were sent at the same time.
Brown said efforts to streamline crime alert distribution have been in the works for several years.
Farrell said MAIS started looking into ways to enable mass crime alert e-mailing in January. She said the shooting incident at Virginia Tech in April 2007, which left 32 people dead and many others wounded, made the efficient dissemination of crime alerts a high priority.
MAIS implemented new software and worked with pre-existing spam filters and virus detectors to make mass crime alert e-mails possible.
“It was a more difficult job than one might think,” Brown said. “We're very appreciative that they've found a way to make this work.”