Pointer Alert System Warns Students of Danger
Cassie Scott
cscot852@uwsp.edu

Pointer Alerts is a free emergency communication alert system that allows students, faculty and staff to be notified in the event of a campus emergency.

The system sends out a universal message at the same time to a variety of portals. Everybody involved with University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will automatically receive the message via their UWSP email address.

Other devices, such as personal cell phones and computers, already registered through the Student Information System located at myPoint will also receive the message.

As long as a student has his or her current information in the myProfile section under their myPoint account their information is loaded into the Pointer Alert System.

Students will also hear a text-to- voice message across the residents hall intercoms and a pop-up message will appear on all UWSP campus computer screens.

All UW schools, excluding UW-Whitewater, have an emergency communication software program in place.

“UWSP is one of two UW schools that have the opt-out option,” said the Emergency Management Specialist for the Risk Management Department, Corinna Neeb. “This means a student’s information is automatically loaded into the system and they can opt-out if they want to.”

This method increases the amount of students who receive the notification. Opt-in programs tend to have lower participation rates because students, faculty and staff have to sign up for the program on their own.

“The system is designed to provide information about active credible emergency situations that pose a threat and require immediate action,” said Director of Safety and Loss Control, Jeff Karcher.

For example, messages for tornado warnings are the only weather alert sent out through the Pointer Alert system.

“Protective Service Dispatchers will typically launch an alert,” Neeb said. “They will only send​out a Pointer Alert when something deemed an immediate threat to a person’s safety is happening.”

She explained that the service is only utilized when something major is happening and direction is needed on campus.

“We don’t want people to ignore the alerts,” Neeb said. “Therefore, messages aren’t sent for thunderstorms or other less pressing circumstances.

Carly Caputa, a double major Art and Communication student said she was unaware of what the Pointer Alert System was until she received a text message during the July 9 tornado warning.

“I wasn’t at Point during the tornado warning, but after I got the text message I checked with my roommate in Point to make sure she was okay,” Caputa said.

Caputa had her current cell phone number in the system and received both a text and an email during the first active Pointer Alert emergency.

“I’m always on my phone, but I don’t check my email, so the fact that the alert goes to my phone is really nifty,” Caputa said.

She also believes the Pointer Alert System is a good investment for the university because it is keeping up with modern technology to reach members of the UWSP community.

According to Neeb, another full-system test will be performed in early October. This test is being conducted to ensure the system is working properly, as well as to collect data on how successful each mode of communication is.

“The test will also be an opportunity for people to give feedback and raise awareness,” Neeb said.

The Pointer Alert System goal is to reach as many members of the campus community as possible in as short an amount of time as possible.

With current contact information and UWSP student, faculty and staff awareness, the program will strive.

“We continue to work at improving the system’s reliability, ease of use, training and other measures of assurance,” Karcher said.

The system will remain in place for years to come and will help secure the protection of everyone at UWSP.