By Tian Liu
As of May 4, the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety no longer sends Hawk Alerts to classroom telephones.
Under the previous system, 230 classroom telephones received voice notifications when Hawk Alerts were issued, an email sent to students said.
“The University of Iowa Department of Public Safety’s top priority is the safety of students, faculty, and staff,” Public Safety emergency-management coordinator Floyd Johnson said in an email to The Daily Iowan.
When the majority of classroom phone calls were unanswered, it not only slowed the system, it also delayed the system to send voice notifications to the other phone numbers on the contact list.
“The classroom phones are an ineffective tool when it comes to quickly sharing emergency information now that nearly everyone carries a cellphone,” Johnson said in the email.
The purpose of the change, he said, is to help Hawk Alert voice messages be delivered more quickly.
“The overall number of voice notifications being sent are what cause delays in delivery,” he said.
Before the change was made, Public Safety discussed the change with Faculty Senate leadership and consulted with Information Technology Services.
Johnson encouraged people on campus to update their Hawk Alert settings to help the system function better.
“The fastest way to receive a Hawk Alert is via text message,” he said.
For most students, the Hawk Alert system has done a good job for the recent years.
“It is useful, as far as I noticed,” UI freshman Bingdi Yang said. “The notifications sent to people’s phones automatically raise their awareness, and thus, they would behave more carefully than usual.”
UI junior Junru He agrees with Yang, but she has the problem of receiving too many alert notifications.
“I had been interfered by the alert notifications before. Sometimes it happened during the class, and sometimes it happened when I was sleeping,” she said. “I always received voice notification twice, email notification once, and also the notifications on social media.”
It is definitely efficient to get the alert notifications, He said, but sometime it’s a bit too many for her.
UI graduate student Zhongrun Xiang has a few quibbles with the system.
“The notification system itself is useful — but sometimes, when an alert is clear later, the system is less likely to send out updates,” Xiang said.
There was one time he received an alert notification about an IMU gas leak, he said. But after waiting at home for a long time, he didn’t receive any updated Hawk Alert notification, and he didn’t know the alert had been clear until he checked it online.
“There was an event at IMU I really wanted to go that day, so it made me really frustrated,” he said.
Luckily, he said, he did find a way to figure out the issue.
“For now, I’m mostly using email and text messages together to check Hawk Alert notifications. It works well,” Xiang said. “Especially that when my phone has no signal in the building, I can still receive email notifications through school WiFi.”