“There was a communication issue,” said Susan Kellogg, the associate vice chancellor for ITS.
“These tend to be complicated situations.”
But Kellogg said work is being done to fix the problem, and ITS is not ignoring the issues in the system.
“We sit down and have a conversation,” Kellogg said. “This is a constant refinement process.”
The system is constantly adapting to new ways of communication and has gone from brightly colored flyers to text messages and social media.
“The technologies available to us today are different than the technologies that were available to us seven or eight years ago, and they’re different than the technologies that will be available to us in a decade,” said DPS spokesman Randy Young.
Even with modernizations, the system sometimes fails.
DPS is looking to make communication smoother and reduce human error in the alert system.
“Quite frankly, the fewer human interactions that are required in the system reduce potential errors,” McCracken said.
Young and McCracken explained that throughout the year, DPS runs various types of emergency drills, including tabletop exercises and real-life drills, and holds meetings with ITS to ensure that they are constantly updating and streamlining communication.
Winston Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs, said he understands Alert Carolina is still a work in progress and continues to be updated.
“There’s no system that is perfect,” Crisp said.
“That’s why you’re constantly testing. That’s why you constantly learn from things that happen, and even when you have a system that’s in place, sometimes stuff doesn’t work. People are human and make mistakes; sometimes what you think an outcome is going to be isn’t the outcome you get.”
Crisp said the traumatic toll that emergency situations take on students is complex but not impossible to deal with.
He explained that there is no easy way to fix every problem, but the University’s response focuses on having people in place and paying attention to what students need.
“It’s not rocket science; it’s not like there’s a button that you can push to sort of fix everything. We just have to make sure that we’re paying attention, that all the resources that we have available that we make sure that people know they’re there,” Crisp said.
“We have to encourage everybody — from the RAs to the staff of the residence hall to faculty members and everybody else — to be paying attention and listening to students and providing time for students.”
Crisp and the DPS officials said constantly improving Alert Carolina is essential to keep students safe and informed.
“The real key is you have to figure out what happened, and then you have to fix it so that it doesn’t happen again,” Crisp said.