Accessing the UMass Boston Alert System
What is the UMass Boston Alert System?
The UMass Boston Alert System is a communications service that UMass Boston provides for all students, faculty and staff. It allows university officials to notify the campus community of emergencies or significant threats to campus safety. The system is not used for routine communications. This service is used in conjunction with other communication channels such as public-address announcements and campus-wide email. See the UMass Boston Alert System Policy for further details.
Answers to common questions are below:
About the System Itself
What means of communication does the system use?
The UMass Boston Alert System will send emergency alerts to all active UMass Boston email accounts. In order to receive text or voice alerts, users must enter cell phone information into the system. Alerts are also sent to campus TV screens, some university computer screens, and the UMass Boston Facebook and Twitter social media accounts.
What does it cost?
The university does not charge for the service. However, normal text messaging rates apply.
How often are alerts sent?
Aside from quarterly system tests, the UMass Boston Alert System is used only for emergencies and specific threats to campus safety. In 2014, the alert system was used a total of 19 times: 4 system test alerts, 7 weather closing messages, and 8 other emergency alerts (6 for unconfirmed bomb threats, 1 for a water emergency requiring campus emergency closure, and 1 for notification of a major traffic reconfiguration during the day posing safety threat to drivers.)
Will I be "spammed" by the UMass Boston Alert System with unnecessary messages?
No. Alerts are sent only for emergencies and specific threats to campus safety. The system is not used for event announcements, campus life information, or other non-emergency topics. It is also not used for city, regional, or national emergencies that do not affect the campus directly. For those general news alerts, see notification systems advocated by the City of Boston Office of Emergency Management, MEMA, and local TV news stations.
Is it guaranteed to work?
While all of our routine system tests have been successful, no alerting system is completely guaranteed. For that reason, this system is one of several different means of notification that the university intends to use in an emergency. Other means of notification include loudspeaker, broadcast email, voicemail messaging, television monitor notification, and flyer notification.
Who sends out these messages?
Members of the Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management and Communications Office have the authority and ability to send out emergency notification messages. Please see the UMass Boston Alert System Policy for more information.
About Your Account, Signing up for Text Alerts, and More
How do I enter my cell phone into the system?
Visit www.getrave.com/login/umb. Note: You do not need to click on "Register" if you have a UMass Boston email account because you are already registered in the system.
Log in, following the directions on the screen. Your username is the part of your email address that precedes @umb.edu. For example, the username for the email address John.Smith001@umb.edu is John.Smith001 without the @umb.edu. The password for the system is the same as your UMass Boston email password.
Add your mobile number and indicate whether you want to receive voice messages as well as text alerts.
The system will send out a test message with a 4-digit confirmation code to your cell phone. Revisit the My Account tab to enter this code and complete the confirmation. Whether you confirm or not, the system will send out emergency messages to your listed cell phone number.
*Be sure that the phone number in your UMass Boston Alert System account matches with your WISER account. If you change your number in WISER, your number in the alert system will be automatically changed.
How do I get the system to email me at another address instead of my campus email?
You can tell the system your preferred email address. Go to the My Account tab, then click on the "add" button of the email section, enter the email address, and check it as the preferred.
Why is it important to receive alerts on your phone as opposed to your computer?
Nobody is at their computer all the time. When you are walking around campus or traveling to campus, you will want to be aware of emergencies at school. Some people feel that receiving emails on their cell phone is enough, but receiving both email and text is recommended because text messaging is faster than email. Delivery times vary by service provider, but text messages are generally delivered within minutes.
Can my parents or other family members also sign up so they’ll know what’s going on?
At this time, registration for the emergency notification service is offered only to currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff of UMass Boston. However, you can add a parent's phone number or email address to your profile within the system so that they will receive alerts.
Will my personal contact information be kept private by the UMass Boston Alert System?
Your information will be kept confidential and used only for the emergency notification process.
I have a disability. Can I receive UMass Boston Alerts on my phone?
People with disabilities are encouraged to sign up for UMass Boston Alerts to receive emergency notification via the modalities that work for them. If you have a disability and have difficulty receiving alerts on your phone, please contact the Office of Emergency Management at 617.287.6821 or the ADA Compliance Officer at 617.287.6584
I've never received a message on my cell phone. Can you tell me why?
If you haven't entered your information into the system using the UMass Boston Alert portal, you won't receive text or phone alerts. If you have entered this information and still have never received a test message, please contact the Office of Emergency Management at 617.287.6821.
How can I remove my information from the system?
Removing your information is as easy as entering it. Simply return to the portal screen, sign in, and remove your cell phone information from the system with the red delete button.
Various media outlets offer text alerting options. They will often include alerts such as those provided by WEA but may also include top news stories. Some will offer a degree of customization relative to which types of alerts you wish to receive.
Traffic and MBTA Alerts
Commuting in and around Boston can be challenging. There are a number of sources of information regarding traffic alerts, including from the MBTA, Massachusetts Department of Transportation and other sources. Please see links available at umb.edu/preparedness.
Other Types of Alerts
Most cell phones are enabled to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), unless this function is disabled by the user. These alerts are not sent by UMass Boston but rather by weather, emergency management and other government authorities. They provide critical emergency information based on location. They are the fastest way to learn of a weather emergency as the National Weather Service is able to alert you directly regarding dangerous storms such as tornados. If you receive a Wireless Emergency Alert, follow any action advised by the message. Seek more details from local media or authorities.
If you have a WEA-enabled phone, you are automatically enrolled, and you do not need to sign up for this system. The number of WEA-capable devices continues to grow, and most new phones (both smartphones and non-smartphones) that are sold from participating carriers will be able to receive these alerts. To confirm that your device is capable of receiving the alerts, please check with your mobile carrier. For more information, please see this link regarding wireless emergency alerts.
I'm a faculty member and have my phone turned off while teaching. Why should I consider signing up for text alerts on my phone?
We recommended that faculty sign up for text alerts for several reasons. First, you may receive an important alert outside of class time or during your commute to campus. Second, if an alert is sent while you are teaching a student will likely receive it and inform the class. Having the notification on your phone allows you to confirm the content of the alert yourself, and it will demonstrate your level of preparedness to your students.
I'm an employee and do not want to receive UMass Boston Alerts on my personal phone.
Entering your cell phone number into the UMass Boston Alert System is a personal choice. We do recommend that everyone with a cell phone enter it in the system because it is how UMass Boston police communicate with the community during an emergency.
I'm on the campus only once a week for class. Why should I add text messaging?
Since there is no way to know when an emergency might occur on campus, we recommend that all members of the UMass Boston community sign up for text alerts.
If I'm inside campus buildings or behind the Quinn Building, I can't always understand what the loudspeaker system is saying.
The loudspeaker system is designed as an outdoor alerting system. If you are near a window while indoors, you may hear that the loudspeakers have been been activated but might not hear the message. Sound engineers determined the best placement for the speakers on campus to reach the most people outdoors. There are some outdoor locations that are away from main gathering areas, such as the Quinn Loading Dock, where the sound may be less clear. If you hear that the loudspeakers are activated, know that the text and email portion of the alert system will also be activated. Check your phone for the full message.
If you have any other questions or want to discuss any of the above, please contact the Office of Emergency Management at 617.287.6821.