How to we warn large groups of danger?

Just like the rest of the country, I am still in shock about what happened yesterday at Virginia Tech. My thoughts go out to all of those affected by the tragedy.

I can’t help but think what would happen if a similar incident occurred at my university. Being a campus much smaller then Virginia Tech, it would take just minutes for a shooter to get to any campus building. It is quite the sobering thought.

So how could warn large groups, such as an entire university, that they are in danger?

Speaking as a former student, a few thoughts on how to warn large groups of people:

  • Every cell phone is capable of receiving a text message. Why not collect cell phone numbers for every student, faculty, and staff member on campus and setup a way to send a mass text message to the cell phone? Since probably 99% of students have a cell phone, word will be instantly spread across campus.
  • Social networking sites like Facebook should work with colleges so the administration can instantly send a message via Facebook to all current students, faculty, and staff. Since it is almost a given that a college student will check Facebook at least a few times a day, word will be spread quickly.
  • I know some towns have a “Reverse 911” system. Why not the same thing for colleges, except using cell phone numbers?
  • Obviously, use the campus e-mail system.

Of course, none of this matters if the alert is sent too late.

It makes me sick thinking about this.