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EDITOR'S NOTE: There are two Emergency Management initiatives going forward at this time that affect the UA faculty, staff and students. One is called UA Alert - an automated "multi-modal" notification system directed at the people with in the UA system for instruction during an emergency situations. The other is UA Ready - a business continuity plan that will help the UA continue “essential operations” at the department level during and after a disruptive event. Both are important and will require your attention. We will be reporting on the progress of both. KW

New Software Program Prepares UA System for Recovery After Emergencies

UAF Police Chief Sean McGee provides survival training to Statewide staff in preparation for a violent intruder drill conducted in the Butrovich building.
UAF Police Chief Sean McGee provides survival training to Statewide staff in preparation for a violent intruder drill conducted in the Butrovich building. Photo by Monique Musick

A new software planning tool is being utilized to help move the University of Alaska System towards prudent preparedness procedures regarding business continuity in case of emergencies.

The new software program, Kuali Ready, will increase the university’s ability to continue “essential operations” at the department level during and after a disruptive event. This type of preparedness is known as business continuity. Once the software application is finished within all university departments, it will produce a continuity plan for the university; Kuali Ready uses an “all hazards” approach and prepares for events that may be natural, technological or man-made incidents.

Preparedness is at the forefront of priorities for Alaska Governor Sean Parnell. Parnell created the Statewide Continuity of Operations Planning Initiative in 2011 and tasked state departments to develop continuity plans.

The Kuali Ready software launch is in response to the governor’s initiative. The deadline for the software launch and plan design is March of 2014. Parnell and Emergency Management have established this timeline. This software launch will be a systemwide effort. The software is being branded for each campus and being named accordingly: UA Ready, UAF Ready, UAA Ready and UAS Ready.

Rick Forkel, director of emergency management, has been involved in the procurement and management of this effort. Additional team members consist of Randy Pommenville of UAF, Dan Garcia of UAS, Manch Garhart of UAA. Toni Abbey is the project manager assigned to the program and Kate Wattum is responsible for public relations efforts.

The initiative will begin with a pilot group from each major administrative unit. Departments including research, student housing, facilities and information technology, which are all considered critical functions within the university, will participate in the pilot launch of the software application beginning around September 2012. The software is projected to be unleashed to the greater UA System around March 2013.

The efforts and data from these pilot groups will allow Emergency Management to better understand the systems vulnerabilities and where to apply preparedness resources to mitigate disruptions in operations.

After the pilot period and plan design changes, the software will be released to the larger UA community. The pilot is tentatively scheduled to last for six months.

Kuali Ready is designed specifically for higher education, and increases the ability of the institutions speed of recovery during and after a disruptive incident.

More about Kuali Ready is available at http://www.kuali.org/ready. Updates to the progress of this statewide initiative will be on going.

Emergency Management Begins UA Alert Notification Testing

What’s the difference between a warning and a notification? What’s the difference between the university’s responsibility in an emergency and our own responsibility in an emergency? In the next few weeks, these answers will be discovered.

Coming in October and early November, the UA Emergency Managers will be running a series of UA Alert notification system tests, beginning with the testing of voicemail and text message capabilities. The UA Alert system is “multi-modal,” meaning that if and when an emergency occurs, the university will use all methods of trying to inform students, staff and faculty of:

  • What has happened
  • What actions are appropriate

Is it really possible to be warned about an emergency? It depends on the emergency. Sometimes, there are warnings about emergencies. For example, there are weather warnings from NOAA. Other incidents, like an explosion, can occur without warning. In those situations, the UA may use a notification system to alert everyone to avoid an area to allow police and fire to work with speed and safety to help preserve life and property.

How does the UA get the word out about emergencies? Using a multi-modal system, Emergency Management uses a variety of means:

  • email
  • websites
  • public media
  • social media
  • voice mail
  • text messages

Due to the size of the UA system (about 43,000 students, faculty and staff), Emergency Management will conduct a series of rolling tests that allows the university to send messages and view results between tests. In early October, testing of Statewide employees will begin. In mid-October, testing in Fairbanks and Anchorage campuses will take place. And in early-mid November, Emergency Management will run a system-wide test.

Emergency Management encourages you to exercise your personal responsibility by learning more about the system in the coming weeks as information becomes available to you. Engage in this important personal emergency training. Watch for messages and advertising prior to the tests with more information, including how to update your information in the UA Alert notification system.

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