Just weeks after announcing several new safety measures for the main campus in Morgantown, including text alert messaging, West Virginia University officials are encouraging faculty, staff and students to sign up for a new Web-based notification system calledWVU Alert.

The systemformally introduced by WVU President Mike Garrison Friday (Oct. 12) in the Mountainlairprimarily uses text messages to alert the campus community to time-sensitive information from authorized campus officials, including weather-related closings and delays, crimes and emergencies/crises, according to Campus Police Chief Bob Roberts. Besides the participant, the system also allows users to add one additional cell phone and e-mail address.

We hope we never have to use this system,Garrison said,but we are ready now to get vital safety information to our campus community quickly and efficiently. Ive talked to thousands of students and hundreds of parents, and campus safety is a concern we all share. This will make WVU an even safer campus.

Roberts said the system, powered by e2Campus and endorsed by the campus crime watchdog group, Security on Campus, is used by a number of colleges and universities across the country. Hes encouraging the entire campus community to sign up.

We researched eight different companies and found this one to be the most efficient and reliable,Roberts said.But it only works if people take the time to register, which only takes a couple of minutes to do.

To sign up for WVU Alert, faculty and staff should go tohttp://emergency.wvu.edu/alert/; students can sign onto Mountaineer Information Xpress (MIX) and click on the emergency alert system icon. (NOTE: If off-campus, people will be asked to supply their MASTERID .) The instructions are self-explanatory; however, users should have their mobile phones handy in order to verify the access code once confirmation comes through.

The online system is fully operational, officials said.

University Police also recommend that system usersopt outon an annual basis and renew their registration each year. When the registration runs out, participants will receive an e-mail alerting them to sign up again or let the service drop (if they have moved on or graduated, for example).

The system is registered with every cell phone carrier in the country and takes only seconds to minutes to activate once the registration is complete. Accounts can also be customized so that alerts can be received via e-mail on BlackBerry devices or personal digital assistants (PDAs); Google, Yahoo or AOL home pages, or through an RSS news aggregator. Depending on the persons personal cell phone carrier, there may be a minimal fee from the carrier to receive text messages, but there is no charge from WVU .

Garrison supported adoption of the new system after students at some of his recentjoin the conversationforums urged him to do so.

Plans are also under way to offer the system to WVU s division/regional campuses.

In an emergency, more detailed information about the situation can also be found on WVU s new web site:http://emergency.wvu.edu/.