As students get ready to hit the books this fall, York University is readying some of its own back to school plans to deal with potential emergencies on the Keele campus.
Starting today and through September, York will be installing liquid crystal display (LCD) television screens in high traffic areas on the Keele campus as part of well-developed institutional emergency preparedness and security services programs. The installation of the screens is part of a much larger communications strategy that involves the use of public address systems, e-mail, voice mail and Internet messaging to alert the community of an emergency situation. The system will be tested throughout September. It will launch Oct. 1.
Screens will be installed in the Bennett Centre for Student Services, Burton Auditorium colonnade, Central Square, Curtis Lecture Halls, Scott Library, Student Centre colonnade, Technology Enhanced Learning Building, Vari Hall, William Small Centre near the Tim Horton's restaurant, York Lanes colonnade and in the York Lanes retail area.
"In light of some of the incidents that have taken place over the past few years at other university campuses in North America, we are expanding our methods for communicating emergency messaging to the York community," says Katherine Branton, manager of York’s Emergency Preparedness Program. The shootings at the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia in 2007 and other campus crises which have taken place since then have highlighted the importance of emergency preparedness to universities around the world.
Weather emergencies, fires, power outages and flooding are just few of the types of emergencies that can happen anywhere at anytime. Officials at York University recognize the importance of being prepared for emergencies, says Branton, and there are procedures in place to deal effectively with these situations.
During non-emergency times, the screens will display current news and weather, and have the capacity to expand to broader community messaging. If an emergency situation occurs, York University's Security Services will display the emergency message, which includes a red banner with bold lettering and an audible tone. The screen display will be accessible to anyone, including those with visual and hearing impairments.
|Above: The emergency messaging system screen display during non emergency times. The display will change during an emergency situation.|
The screens have been carefully designed to display important information in a way that can be quickly read and understood, says Branton. "In the event of an emergency, such as a fire or fire alarm, weather emergency or other potentially more serious situations, these screens will provide information and instructions to the York community on what actions to take and how to protect themselves," she says. "The screens will display the information until the emergency is over. Once the emergency is over, at which time, York Security Services will revert the screens back to non-emergency messaging."
Left: An emergency LCD screen in the colonnade leading to York Lanes
For more information on this initiative or any other of York University's emergency preparedness initiatives, visit the Emergency Preparedness Program Web site or the Security Services Web site, or contact the Office of Emergency Preparedness at 416 -736-5258 or 416-736-5634.