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SUNY Emergency Alert FAQ

What is the SUNY Emergency Alert system?
The SUNY Emergency Alert system is an emergency alert system based on the NY-ALERT system established by the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO). SUNY campuses can use the SUNY Emergency Alert system to send emergency and safety information and protective action messages to students, faculty and staff to protect lives and well-being, protect assets and minimize campus disruption.

Who is authorized to send emergency/safety information?
The SUNY Emergency Alert system can be used only by authorized campus personnel to send emergency messages, including emergency protective actions, warnings and post-incident information related to life safety issues to the campus community. The SUNY Emergency Alert system will not be used by any party for any political, financial or personal gain, advertisement or advocacy. All parties that use SUNY Emergency Alert system will adhere to the professional ethics standards promulgated by the State of New York.

What type of emergency/safety information will be broadcast?
Alert notifications are allowed pertaining only to events in the categories identified below or other “life-threatening” situations. “ALL CLEAR” and/or additional follow-up messages pertaining to end of event or additional instructions regarding the event are acceptable. General notifications of campus non-emergency events or activities are not acceptable via the SUNY Emergency Alert system.

Classification and Acceptable Usage:

  • Bomb Threat: based on intelligence that indicates the threat is credible.
  • Civil Disturbance:large group disrupting normal campus activities.
  • Fire: large-scale fire to building(s), wildfires, local community or industry that endangers campus.
  • Hazardous Material: dangerous material, chemical, biological, nuclear spreading from a contained area.
  • Major Road Closing/Incident: unanticipated event that would disrupt safe passage to and from campus.
  • Medical Emergency: pandemic or event with mass casualties.
  • Personal Safety: situations that include use of weapons, violence, perpetrator(s) at large, active shooter, hostage situation or missing persons.  Any situation, on or off campus, that, in the judgment of the Chief Administrative Officer or designee, constitutes an ongoing or continuing threat to person or property.
  • Suspicious Package reasonable belief that a package may contain chemical, biological or nuclear substance that would cause harm to persons or property.
  • Utility Failure: a major disruption or damage to utilities including gas, electrical or water.
  • Weather: severe weather conditions to include flooding, snow/ice/cold, thunderstorm, wind, tornado or hurricane.

Is it mandatory for campuses to use the SUNY Emergency Alert system?
No. Campuses can opt to have their own solution, but participation in this project is highly encouraged because it is free. SEMO has worked with major cellular companies to allow for priority handling of the calls and text messages. SEMO has also developed a system to prevent overloading a campus email server when emergency messages are sent.

Is it mandatory for students, faculty and staff to participate?
No. Students, faculty and staff will have the ability to opt out, but participation is voluntary and strongly encouraged. Those who opt out will have the opportunity to participate at any time by signing up online.

Will the SUNY Emergency Alert system replace other means of communication that the College uses to notify the campus community of emergency information?
No. The SUNY Emergency Alert system will augment other means, including the public address system, fire alarm/emergency intercom system, two-way radios, bullhorns, email system, voicemail system, the College website and word of mouth.

Why do I have to sign up for the SUNY Emergency Alert system?
Some SUNY campuses have reported that students and employees resist giving their contact information because they do not want to be bombarded with emails from the campus. Individuals are informed that this data will not be stored in campus systems with the goal of having a higher participation rate.

Once I sign up will I ever have to sign up again?
Yes. You will be asked to sign up for the SUNY Emergency Alert system at the beginning of each academic calendar year. This may sound ridiculous, but this is actually for your protection. Many faculty, staff and students change cell phone numbers/companies each year and do not submit their updated information to important lists. We also have faculty, staff and students who leave for various reasons each year (graduation, transfer to another campus, work) and this is the only way currently in existence to manage the list. Signing up only takes a few minutes, but the time spent could one day prove useful to you in the event of an emergency.

Does it matter how many phones and in what order I enter them when I sign up?
No. You will be allowed to enter up to 3  telephone numbers, 2 email addresses, 1 fax number and 3 text message numbers. It doesn’t matter what order either since the system will dial them all at about the same time. You can also include your parents/spouse/family member’s number as a second or third number, if you wish for them to receive an alert as well.

What happens if I don’t answer the phone when an emergency notification is sent out?
If you have voicemail, the message will be left in your voice mailbox. If there is no answer or a busy signal, SEMO will continue to try to contact each phone number for a maximum of 3 times.

How do I update my information?
You can go into SUNY Emergency Alert System Secure Web Portal and update the information as often as possible. The latest information will override any previous information you have previously entered. However, be as accurate as possible.

Will there be a test of the emergency notification system?
Yes. SUNY Optometry will conduct a test of the system regularly. The test during the Fall 2007 semester is scheduled for November. Notification of the test will precede the actual test.

Will it cost me anything to participate in SUNY Emergency Alert system?
The SUNY Emergency Alert system is being provided as a FREE service to campuses so there is no enrollment fee. However, specific contract details are still being worked out with cell/text service providers, so airtime charges may apply for some participants.

Will I automatically be enrolled in SUNY Emergency Alert system once I sign up?
No. The names and contact information of individuals who sign up for the SUNY Emergency Alert system through the SUNY Emergency Alert System Secure Web Portal are submitted to SEMO on Monday mornings at 4:00am If you sign up after the list is sent, your name and information will be sent the following Monday. This is the procedure that SUNY established with SEMO.