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Sounding a better alarm

Campus Security

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Jim Lemcke, director of Public Safety Administration for the University of Montana, is paying close attention to the continually unfolding details of last month’s shooting massacre at Virginia Tech University.

“I felt that since the Virginia Tech incident that campus police are taking a hit on the communications piece,” says Lemke of questions raised in the days and weeks following the shooting deaths of 32 people on the Blacksburg, Va. campus. Analysts have focused in part on the lack of communication between campus authorities and the faculty and students. Could lives have been saved if more people knew earlier that an armed madman was loose on campus?

Lemcke doesn’t ever want to have to answer that question, so he’s looking into new technologies to better communicate information about potential crises, be it an armed gunman or an earthquake.

Last week Lemcke met with officials from Invizeon Corp., a Missoula-based technology company that provides a possible solution.

“The same communication deficiencies occur all too frequently, as witnessed by widely reported events like 9/11, Katrina and western wildfires,” says Greg Alderson, Invizeon’s chairman and CEO.

Invizeon has developed software allowing a single emergency response message to be sent simultaneously to telephones, laptops, fax machines, cellular phones, e-mail, etc., making it possible for officials such as Lemcke to instantly notify an entire campus of an emergency situation. Invizeon’s service is already employed by the United Nations and the U.S. Department of Defense.

“We’ve actually devoted quite a bit of time reviewing all these plans. It’s a daily thing that we work on ever since that first day,” Lemcke says. “I’m sure every college campus across the U.S. is doing the same thing.”

Alderson believes that with the worst shooting massacre in American history fresh in the minds of parents and students, universities across the nation will no doubt be looking to implement comprehensive alert systems.

“They’ll have to,” he says.

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