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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

FM-Based Digital Alerting Available for Universities

A company is touting a unversity emergency-alerting system that may help prevent repeats of the murderous Virginia Tech shootings.

Global Security Systems (GSS) of Jackson, Miss., is now able to deliver the ALERT FM system to universities and colleges.

Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho's campus rampage left more than 30 dead before he turned his gun on himself. The gunman began his massacre in one campus building before breaking to send materials to NBC news and then returning to his killing spree. Some have said the campus should have had more warnings sooner after the initial killings.

ALERT FM is a personal alert messaging system that enables campus administrators, emergency management personnel or police to create and send notifications to students, staff, first responders or citizens, GSS says. The FM signal offers a unique advantage in that it has coverage for areas where cell signals may not operate, also in the case of a wider emergency a carrier signal can become overloaded and delayed or cease to operate. Additionally, there are no costs associated with message delivery, the company says.

Students and staff can receive alerts via ALERT FM receivers or USB sticks, as well as mobile devices equipped with a standard FM chip. By utilizing ALERT FM, campus security would have the ability to distribute real-time notifications for emergency situations, weather warnings, homeland security notices and evacuation instructions, according to GSS.

Many universities have a licensed FM station on campus or a commercial station serving the area. The alert messaging is delivered via a secure, private digital network, which utilizes existing FM standards and transmitters, GSS says. This system uses a standard FM commercial receiver chip inserted into an ALERT FM receiver or any mobile communication device. It provides mass distribution of emergency alert messages via a local radio station's FM infrastructure.

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