University changes emergency communications plans

The University has made some important changes in when and how you will be contacted about a campus safety issue.

The revised emergency communications plan reflects input from student leaders as part of a review of campus procedures that also drew from a process developed at Virginia Tech, Director of Public Safety Jeff McCracken wrote in a campus email message.

“The result is a clearer, more straightforward approach to letting you know what to expect up front,” he said.

Effective September 1, the University uses three types of alert conditions – emergency warning, timely warning and informational notification.

(Click here to view a downloadable color web poster explaining these categories.)

• Emergency warning is a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to health or safety. As with the previous plan, UNC will sound the sirens and send text messages to registered cell phones immediately after a threat is confirmed. Scenarios are an armed and dangerous person, a chemical hazard, a tornado warning issued for Orange County, or some other significant general threat to safety.

• Timely warning is a notification about certain crimes covered under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act when the information is available so people can protect themselves or their property from similar crimes. This notification will occur only if the Department of Public Safety determines there is a continuing danger to the campus AND if issuing the timely warning won’t compromise law enforcement efforts to address the crime. A general text message will be followed by updates on the Alert Carolina website, alertcarolina.unc.edu. The sirens will not sound. Timely warnings also cover a tornado watch issued for Orange County.

• Informational notification is for a less-urgent situation that involves health or safety issues, but doesn’t pose an immediate threat. The University will send an email and post information on the Alert Carolina website. Examples include a situation in which a perpetrator in a violent crime has been arrested or is no longer on campus or there is a major natural gas leak that doesn’t warrant evacuation.

The new plan is posted on the Alert Carolina website. The University’s YouTube Channel also features a video with McCracken explaining the plan.

More information

Published September 1, 2011.