UT Tyler emergency alert app back online

The University of Texas at Tyler has brought its Instant Alert Network back online after two false alarms last month.

Beverley Golden, UT Tyler’s director of communications, said the IAN system was brought back online Tuesday.

The IAN application is a cell phone application used by staff members to send an alert directly to campus police. Police then respond while dispatch attempts to contact the person on the phone, which the alert originated from. Golden said the system is used for many purposes including fire and medical issues.

Just before 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, a staff member accidentally sent an active shooter alert on the internal system, which notified UT Tyler campus police. As officers responded to the alert sent from the Biology, Education and Psychology Building, dispatch began receiving calls reporting shots fired in the nearby Braithwaite Nursing and Health Science Building.

Both buildings were cleared within 30 minutes and no evidence of a shooter was found. A student who had fallen down the stairs in Braithwaite told officers the sound of his fall and his books hitting a door may have been mistaken for a gunshot.

At 5:30 p.m., a second false notification was sent out, resulting in the campus taking the alert system offline for the time being.

“The police department worked with the vendor to determine the root cause,” Golden said. “We’ve changed the procedure so this shouldn’t happen again. It still functions as a panic button.”

Golden said the alerts now will be routed differently in order to avoid a high-level response to an accidental alert.

The university has no plans to get rid of the application. Golden said it has proven useful in the past and is a valuable safety tool.

Staff has not been required to undergo additional training, but Golden said the vendor is looking into ways to make it more difficult to send an accidental alert, while ensuring the system remains effective.

“We’ve had medical situations where first responders were able to get there much quicker than going through other channels,” she said.

In an e-mail to faculty, Golden praised the quick response of the UT Tyler Police Department and its relationships with other law enforcement agencies, which responded.

“Multiple officers from local agencies were quickly on the scene, and had there in fact been a threat to the campus, the incident would have been resolved quickly,” she wrote.

Twitter: @TMT_Cory

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