author Marlee Hirson, Monday October 19, 2015

It was quite the Friday morning on Wilfrid Laurier’s campus.

The capabilities of push notification on mobile safety apps were put to use during the five-hour lockdown that occurred on October 17th 2015 at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. The lockdown was caused by an online threat made towards the university that used similar language to a message that as posted before the mass shooting at Umpqua College in Oregon on October 1st. The university used the campus mobile safety app, “SAFEHawk”, to send push notifications to students, faculty, and staff that alerted them about the lockdown and further updates.

Throughout the crisis, 6 different mass notifications were sent through the SAFEHawk App. Students, faculty and staff were made aware of the situation and informed on steps to take to avoid the campus. At all times, the mass notifications linked to a WLU website which provide more information, a common usage of the push notification technology. As well, the Alert Status was also used to provide a historical view of the crisis so any unaware users could be quickly brought up to speed.

Thankfully the crisis didn’t materialize into a tragedy. What can be taken away from this scenario is the incredible importance of reliable communication for students and faculty members during a safety procedure or an emergency. The push notification and Alert Status features of SAFEHawk proved its great value on Friday; it ensured that students, faculty and staff had the information they needed to be safe.

Were you on the WLU campus during the lockdown? Did you receive a mass notification from the SAFEHawk app? Or has your campus ever used this technology in a lockdown?

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