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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 4, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 1
Text Messages to Be Used in Emergencies

To participate, students, faculty, staff must enroll through JHED

By Dennis O'Shea

Johns Hopkins on Thursday, Sept. 6, will activate a new system to alert students, faculty and staff by text message in the event of a major emergency that threatens the lives or safety of members of the campus community.

The Johns Hopkins Emergency Alerts system will be launched at the Homewood/Eastern/Mount Washington campuses and at the Peabody Institute. Other campuses will be added shortly.

"Since the shootings at Virginia Tech last April, colleges across the country have been looking at how they would get the word out quickly in the event of a similarly critical emergency," said Edmund Skrodzki, executive director of safety and security at Homewood.

"Johns Hopkins, like many others, has concluded that text messaging is an important addition to the other systems we already use to notify people during emergencies," Skrodzki said.

"Text messages are short, but they are relatively rapid and direct," he said. "If we ever have to use the system, we will be able to get out an alert, some very brief instructions on what to do and advice on where to get more information as the crisis develops."

To enroll in JHEA, students, faculty and staff must log into the Johns Hopkins Enterprise Directory, which is now a part of the portal, and provide their cell phone numbers. They must also agree to the program's terms and conditions, which include the responsibility to pay their mobile service provider's usual charges for text messages received.

"But we want people to know that we intend to send text messages only in the event of an emergency involving an imminent potential threat to safety or, rarely, for system tests," Skrodzki said. "If the situation is critical enough for us to send a text alert, you're going to want to pay the charges in order to know the information."

Complete information on how to register for JHEA is available online at

The campus security offices have been working with Information Technology@Johns Hopkins and the Office of Communications and Public Affairs to prepare for JHEA's launch. IT@JH is also working with a message aggregator to ensure that mobile phone companies will accept a large number of simultaneous text messages from Johns Hopkins as legitimate alerts rather than spam.


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