UH Upgrades Communication

University of Houston students will have a chance to attend a candle light vigil to remember the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports UH officials were already in the process of improving information sharing with students.

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Communicating to a mobile student body of over 40,000 presents its own challenges. Plant Operations Associate Vice President Dave Irvin:

"What we're doing and have in place and we're expanding on is looking at redundant ways to get that message out so we're not relying just on e-mail, but we're looking at how do we push the message out to cell phones, PDAs, how do we add things like public address systems and sirens so there are multiple ways to get that message out regardless of where you are in the campus community."

Irvin says UH has been working on improving student communications since Tropical Storm Alison. He says they're using technology the best they can.

"And it's a system that will allow us to simultaneously send out phone calls, emails, text messages, to literally thousands of devices all at the same time. In the next several weeks we are going to be asking students, faculty and staff to give us their cell phones, their emails, any place they would like that information to be sent and we can send it as many places as they want."

The goal is to have it in place by June first, the start of the hurricane season. But Irvin says as a result of the Virginia Tech shooting they are trying to accelerate some of the plans. One item still being discussed is deciding what type of information will be shared.

"Certainly you can't share everything. You want to make sure that security issues for instance are only by those who need them but we are looking very hard at how we, what kind of information we get out, and more importantly how can we accelerate making those decisions and getting the information out so we don't have delays of hours when it's critical."

Tonight UH Campus Ministers Association is holding a candle light vigil in front of the MD Anderson Memorial Library. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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