Public Safety addresses GB Alert questions

UW-Green Bay officials are working with private service providers to correct a problem that arose during Thursday’s tornado warning exercise and affected communication with about 700 (less than one-fifth) of the subscribers to the GB Alert system.

The issue became apparent shortly after the UW-Green Bay Office of Public Safety joined in the statewide readiness drill at 1:45 p.m. Emails to all faculty, staff and student accounts went out promptly, directing drill participants to seek shelter away from glass on the lowest levels of their buildings or in interior locations. At the same time, Public Safety also activated a test of the GB Alert messaging system, which in the event of campus emergency sends text or email alerts to those students, faculty and staff who have voluntarily subscribed. While many GB Alert subscribers received their test alert instantaneously, as designed, cell phone users with Cellcom service did not. UW-Green Bay Chief of Police Tom Kujawa says a technical issue involving the University’s third-party message relay vendor and the Cellcom system appears to be the culprit. Along with delaying messages to some subscribers, the system-to-system hiccup led to a send/re-send loop that delivered the same message multiple times to some users before the system could be reset. The third party vendor, Public Safety and Cellcom worked together through late evening until the repeated message issue was resolved. Kujawa says the vendors now believe they have diagnosed and corrected the problem, which had not occurred during previous GB Alert tests. (A follow-up test to confirm the fix could take place as early as today.)

In the meantime, subscribers who experienced problems with their text alerts Thursday are reminded that the University will always use overlapping and multiple channels — including emails, web notifications, screen alerts on network computers, local news media and public address announcements — as part of its overall emergency notification plan. Kujawa also extends thanks to those users who reported the problem and were patient in awaiting a resolution.

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