I have talked to a lot of university professionals who need to know what is going across their campus at any given point. With the prevalence of campus crime and the possibility for emergencies to occur at any time, colleges and universities are continuously evaluating and updating their emergency plans to ensure their campus is as safe as possible.
How does this factor into your role as someone who coordinates events for your campus? Just by the nature of your job you are aware of the many events that can be happening at one of the many various locations at various times across your campus. As stated in this excerpt by U.S. Department of Education in the 2010 Action Guide for Emergency Management at Institutions of Higher Education:
Many institutions of higher education operate complex enterprises in addition to their academic programs. Hospitals, research and development facilities, performing arts venues, athletic complexes, agriculture centers, residential complexes, food services, and transportation systems all present a unique set of circumstances that must be considered when designing emergency management plans. These structural and environmental characteristics pose challenges for access control, monitoring movements, defining boundaries for facilities and grounds, standardizing procedures and decision-making processes, and prioritizing resource allocations.
As you know, events can happen anytime, anywhere on your campus. So can a crisis.
How can you best communicate in a crisis if you don’t know where people are?
A lot of the evolutions in campus safety have resulted from technology.
For instance, according to one source, 99% of universities use email as part of their emergency notification system, and approximately 56% have social media monitoring in place to help them become aware of a crisis sooner than most other forms of communication.
Emails, texts, and social media are all great ways to get the word out. But, a lot of this technology is better suited for students who have opted in to receive that type of communication from the institution than campus event attendees. In most cases, university event planners have no way of communicating outwardly to event attendees during an emergency.
Awareness helps ensure event attendees are safe during a campus crisis
Without the ability to push messages to event attendees on campus, university event planners must rely on their event management systems to tell them pertinent information, like where events are taking place at any given moment and how many attendees are present.
Imagine using event management software for your university that can quickly and easily generate a report that shows all of the spaces with events going on at a single point of the day. This way you know you have a specific number of events going on across the campus with a specific amount of attendees. Then, in the case of a school shooting, weather emergency, evacuations, and so on, that information can be used on the fly to get emergency personnel headed in the right direction to ensure event attendees are safe and sound. Marquette University has such a system in place, and you can read their case study here.