Text Marketing to Enhance Campus Security
Schools and universities alike have begun to use technology to their advantage as a security solution. According to Mashable, seventy-five percent of high school students and 90% of college students own a cell phone with over 70% that state SMS is their channel of choice. Adding a mobile strategy has shown to be the best form of communication to instantly notify the student body of a security threat.
Following the devastating shooting that took the lives of 33 people on April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech put in place changes to create a safer environment for their students and staff. Their improved reaction time and response plans may have helped enhance campus security and prevent further actions of the recent shooter.
On December 8, 2011, news blasts and blogs stated that “thousands of students were alerted by cell phone that a gunman was on the loose and the [Virginia Tech] campus was locked down.”
* 12:15PM – Derick W. Crouse was shot in his unmarked cruiser during a routine stop.
* Shortly before 12:30PM – Police received a call from a witness.
* About 6 minutes later – The first campus wide alert was sent by email, text message and electronic signs in university buildings.
– The campus was vacant and still as everyone was told to go indoors and stay put.
* 15 minutes after the witness called police – A patrolling deputy sheriff noticed the shooter.
– Deputy watches the suspicious Ross Truett Ashley pacing the Cage parking lot. As the deputy circled, Ashley took his own life.
Did the vacant streets alter his plans for greater violence? Did he know that thousands of students were already alerted by text marketing? Did the Virginia Tech mobile alerts provide a model for disaster response planning?
Some feel that due to the immediate release of the shooter’s whereabouts and actions through text message and other devices, lives were saved.
“The alert system worked exactly as expected,” said school spokesman Larry Hincker. “It’s fair to say that life is very different at college campuses today. The telecommunications technology and protocols that we have available to us, that we now have in place, didn’t exist years ago… We believe the system worked very well.”
Many government entities are starting to use mobile phones as an asset to help school safety, security, and police. 98% of text messages are opened, generally within the first 3 minutes they are received, and nations around the world are taking advantage of it.