Cooper in schools

Alert system installed in 17 Va. colleges
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

ARLINGTON, Va.--A total of 18 community colleges in Virginia have launched Cooper Notification’s Roam Security Alert Network (RSAN) emergency notification system.

Cooper announced on May 22 that 17 additional colleges had joined Northern Virginia Community College, which launched its RSAN system in August 2007.

Parents, friends and alumni can now sign up for alerts at individual university Web sites. The Web-based system can deliver more than 18,000 real time messages per minute via email, pager, cellphone, Blackberry, desktop, voice calls, indoor and outdoor speakers.

Some mass notification companies have suggested that to get the maximum contact rate, it’s best to do a data dump than to have people sign up for alerts. Asked about Cooper’s philosophy on this, Ned Ingraham, Cooper’s vice president of homeland security services for Cooper, said it’s up to the customer. “It’s not an issue for us. We want to comply with how [the customer] does business. We don’t ask them to change the way they do business to comply with software,” he said.

While a data dump may be preferable in a lot of instances, it may not work for some customers.

Colleges, for example, may not have a database of friends and community members. And because there may be a fee for text messages received, colleges may want to allow students to opt out. However, Ingraham noted that if one person in a classroom is contacted, the whole class will quickly know what’s going on. More important than contact rates, therefore, is an accurate, targeted and fast messaging system.

Ingraham came to Cooper in December 2005 after a career largely in IT, most recently serving as chief information officer of Washington, D.C. Emergency Management Department.

He said he was “enthusiastic about the technology Roam Secure was bringing to the marketplace.” Adding that [Cooper’s staff has] the breadth of knowledge to do it and the skill to get it done right and rapidly.”

The system’s alerts can be sent to individual campuses or shared among multiple colleges via the Roam Secure Information Exchange. It will be integrated with more than 30 existing RSAN systems in major cities, counties and other colleges across Virginia that are connected via the Roam Secure Information Exchange and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s alerting network, called SWAN.