In a continued effort to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff, Polk State College is partnering with mass notification system Everbridge to provide important alert notifications as they happen and allow those on campus to easily report suspicious and dangerous activity or call for help.
All active students and employees will receive Everbridge alerts automatically. Notifications will be sent in the event of inclement weather, natural disasters, or other unforeseen and immediate conditions that may affect the health and safety of students or employees. Alerts will also be sent in the event of emergencies or dangerous situations occurring on campus that involve an immediate threat to students’ or employees’ health or safety.
To maximize safety, students and employees will be encouraged to download the Everbridge application on their smartphones. The app is available for Apple and Android. Everbridge is available to each of Florida’s public colleges and universities at no cost to the institutions.
“Having a mobile app specific to campus security is a great thing,” said Robert Stack, Polk State’s Chief Information Officer. “It’s ubiquitous at colleges and universities throughout Florida and has a very good track record.”
Alerts will be sent (in this order) via the app, text message, phone call, and email. Recipients will be asked to confirm they received the alert. Once confirmed, the alerts won’t be sent to the other means of communication. For example, if the confirmation is given after the app alert, no text message, phone call, nor email will be necessary.
Students should download the app and search for “Polk State.” They should then select “Polk State College Alerts.” They will be asked to put in their Polk State username and password to complete the process. Faculty and staff will receive employee-specific instructions via their Polk State emails.
The app will include two new features, including a panic feature, which allows students and employees to report a suspicious incident or call for help. Users can push an “Emergency” panic button on their phones, which calls 911, alerts security, and allows College and law enforcement personnel to respond to their location.
“That’s a key safety feature,” Stack said. “Wherever you are on campus, whether that be a parking lot or a stairwell, it alerts security to your location and serves as an immediate call for help.”
The other feature is the “Non-Emergency” button, which calls the Polk State College Security Dispatch desk. This would be used in cases where the user was not in danger but had a need like help with car trouble or access to a building.
Polk State will still use its traditional methods such as the College website, www.polk.edu, and social media platforms to help keep students, faculty, and staff informed and safe.
To make sure notifications are received, the College urges students and employees to ensure that all information is up to date in Passport. Contact information should be current under the “My Details” link. Numbers entered in the “Cellular Number” field in the “Personal Information” section are used for emergency texts and phone messages.