Alert Notifications & System Monitoring
When emergencies occur, it is crucial that reliable systems of communication can be used to notify district personnel as well as impacted individuals. The district employs a number of tools that may be used under these circumstances.
Systems for Communicating to Homes
The district has a highly functional and mature listserv system. When a new email address is added to our student information system, an email will be sent that evening to that address inviting them to join the district listserv system. Additionally, anyone with an email address can join these lists as well by using the district's Listserv Self-Service system. While the listserv is mainly used for more routine communication, it can and has been used to alert individuals of emergencies as well.
There are lists for each school. In the middle and high schools, there are additional lists for each grade level.
FlashAlert is used by most of the Portland Metro area to post school delays and closings. This system is coordinated with the local TV and radio stations. FlashAlert feeds into the tickers running across the bottom of their broadcasts. Because FlashAlert messages go to the entire district, the system is not generally used for emergency notifications. Flashalert can send email notifications as well as app-based text-style messages to mobile devices running the FlashAlert app.
Schoolmessenger is a system that allows the district to send phone, email, and potentially text notifications of various situations. Schoolmessenger can be targeted to certain schools, grade levels, and other criteria.
Systems for Alert Notification
911 Emergency Calls
When someone in the district uses the district's phone system to place a call to 911, our system will send on-screen popups to select computers. The system will also email and text selected individuals as well. The parties are located both in the school and outside the school. These alerts identify the date/time and location where the call was placed. This raises the attention of the notified parties to "be ready" for more details and to provide help.
This notification system is tested in every school every month by district IT staff. All "tests" are preceded by a matter of minutes with a warning that a test of the system is about to take place. This prevents unnecessary panic or heightened awareness even as we do get the opportunity to verify functionality.
Our intercoms have the ability to be activated with pre-recorded emergency messages from anywhere. If an event such as a Lockdown is initiated within a school, various parties both inside and outside of the school receive emails and text messages of the alert condition. Drills are run according to a prescribed schedule. Notifications of emergency conditions are all preceded by loud and attention-getting tones that are designed to get the attention of the school. Language of the alert messages is prescribed by the iloveuguys foundation. The iloveyouguys foundation is the foundation that provides emergency protocol services.
When drills are run, a warning of the drill is sent a few minutes before the drill occurs so that recipients know it is a drill. If an alert is received that is not preceded by a warning of the drill, the alert is considered to be a live and real event and dealt with accordingly by involving the district's emergency response protocols.
Technology System Alerts
Most systems include a variety of alerting conditions to bring attention to potential issues. This includes connectivity issues, power issues, hardware issues, sensor issues, and a wide variety more. When an alert condition is detected, appropriate school personnel are notified.
Additionally, the district's entire core technology is polled every 5 minutes to confirm functionality. If a system does not respond, an alert is sent to district IT staff. And, to make sure that this system is functional, an "all is well" email is sent every hour.
By being alerted of a situation early, impact and severity are both minimized. District IT staff can often identify the problem, diagnose it, and resolve it even before any end users are impacted.