The University of Maine has implemented a new emergency communications system called Blackboard Connect and opted out of the previous E2 Campus system. According to Information Technology Project Manager Angel Allen, the new system allows users to log in and select all campuses that they want to get notifications from on one screen.
This is aimed to eliminate any confusion if, for example, a student was taking both a class at UMaine as well as a course at another campus in the University of Maine System.
Blackboard Connect has now been implemented at all seven UMaine campuses and was first tested on Nov. 29. All UMaine emergency communications subscribers received the test alerts by mid-afternoon that day, and Allen said the test was successful.
This new system uses the standard @maine.edu email login, meaning that users do not need to create new login information as previously required in the past.
This service was implemented by a team of University of Maine System personnel, which included Information Technology and representatives from each of the seven campuses.
The University of Maine System posted a request for proposals in January 2018, initiating a process whereby providers presented what features their services offered along with the cost of their service.
A contract was signed on Aug. 1, 2018, and during the following four months the implementation team configured the service and transferred account data.
Allen said that as of today, 8,677 people are registered to receive alerts from the Orono campus and 22,823 are registered at all campuses combined.
This emergency communication system allows for the University to alert members of the UMaine communities to receive alerts regarding active shooters, bomb threats, severe weather and other kinds of emergencies.
“Preparedness is key to any comprehensive emergency action plan and this tool enables early notification, timely notification, and awareness of developing situations for all members of the community,” Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Student Life at UMaine Robert Dana said.
Dana explained how early warning in any type of emergency situation is crucial because it gives people time to prepare, take appropriate precautions and seek more information from resources such as the University’s website.
Speed, capacity and reliability are some of the top priorities Blackboard Connect addresses on its website.
The service offers features such as delivering messages through text-to-speech, SMS, email, Facebook and Twitter. It also allows for messages to be sent in various languages, which can accommodate the students on campus who speak languages other than English.
For those who need to update preferences, or for those with firstname.lastname@example.org addresses who wish to receive UMaine emergency alerts, go to umaine.bbcportal.com/. More information about the system can be found at umaine.edu/emergency/sms-faq/.