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Bradley Hilltopics

Spring 2010 • Volume 16, Issue 2  

Notebook

 

Communication for safety's sake

Bradley’s safety supervisor Rollin Arnett, at left, worked with Thompson Electronics Co. owner CRAIG THOMPSON ’74 to install a state-of-the-art emergency communication system on campus. Photo by Duane Zehr.

By ERIN WOOD ’09

The Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, followed by the shooting at Northern Illinois University less than one year later, prompted many college administrators to reexamine campus security. Though already a priority for President Joanne Glasser, ensuring the safety of Bradley’s students, faculty, and staff became even more crucial.

“We will continue to strive to make Bradley among the safest campuses in the nation.”
—JOANNE GLASSER, BU president

“Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our students and our entire University community,” Glasser said. “Our intention is to make Bradley a safer community to live, learn, work, and play. We have made significant improvements in recent years, and we will continue to strive to make Bradley among the safest campuses in the nation.”

What Bradley needed was a comprehensive communication system that addressed the wide array of possible threats to campus safety. Mass Notification/Emergency Communications (MNEC) emerged as the solution. Capable of alerting the campus population about everything from fires to hazardous weather to armed intruders, Bradley’s EST3-Sixty system is at the forefront where MNEC is concerned. It includes a paging system, fire alarms, electronic signage, and other forms of communication. The system is backed up by batteries and will remain operational for 24 hours, even if the rest of campus is without power. “Right now, we are one of the leaders in the country,” said Bradley’s safety supervisor Rollin Arnett. “I think our system is truly state of the art.”

The system’s multi-dimensional approach provides real-time information and instructions that can be customized to different locations. “We can send a specific message to one building and another to the rest of the campus,” Arnett said. Administrators can choose to send out a prerecorded voice message or use one of the microphones placed throughout the major buildings on campus to give more specific instructions. The system has been used twice so far, both times to relay information about severe weather.

Turning to Thompson

Bradley turned to Thompson Electronics Co. (TEC) in Bartonville about 2 1/2 years ago to install the emergency communication system. Owner CRAIG THOMPSON ’74 and his team donated fire alarm installations several years ago and helped Bradley gain the rank of number one in fire safety for colleges and universities by the Princeton Review.

Arnett explained that the University’s satisfaction with TEC’s earlier work was a major factor in choosing the company to update the emergency communication system. Thompson said the new EST3-Sixty system, along with the other renovations on campus, should help Bradley stand out even more to prospective students and their parents. “The Bradley campus has evolved and is continually improving at an ever increasing pace. It has been a pleasure to be part of enhancing the safety of the campus environment.”

The installation of EST3-Sixty is being done in phases. About 20 buildings are fully equipped, and there are about 10 more to complete. Priority went to buildings with free access and the highest occupancy during the day, such as Bradley Hall, Olin Hall, and Cullom-Davis Library. Additionally, speakers have been placed on rooftops so announcements can be heard outside and in buildings where the system has not yet been installed.

TEC also upgraded Bradley’s existing fire alarm system to work in conjunction with the new MNEC system. “In the past when a fire alarm went off, we knew it was in a particular building, but we didn’t know more than that,” said Ron Doerzaph, Bradley’s director of facilities management. “Now, the control panel tells us which detector is going off, and it can pinpoint the fire.”

ForeWarn a good fit

Bradley’s new technology works hand in hand with the foreWarn emergency notification system, which conveys messages to the campus community through text messages, a telephone hotline, e-mail, and public address announcements on the Bradley homepage. “With the combination of the new system, the Web updates, e-mails and text messaging, we are really at the top of the line in what we are doing,” Arnett said.

“You can’t put a value on the need for safety,” Doerzaph added. “We need to be prepared for any type of emergency.”