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UT searching for new text alert vendor


(WBIR-Knoxville) In today's world, technology plays a big part in relaying messages.

"Texting gets people's attention almost immediately," said Brian Gard, UT Emergency Manager.

That's why the University of Tennessee joined thousands of universities across the county by taking part in the text alert system.

"We know that we can reach somewhere upwards to 30-40 thousand people inside of a couple of minutes. It's probably the most effective or efficient ways to get our message out," said Chief Troy Lane, UT Police.

But just like anything else, mistakes do happen.

Last weekend, students did not get an alert about a shooting in Ft. Sanders and in the last two months, two false alerts were sent to the UT community about an incident involving a gun.

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The university apologized for those errors.

"There wasn't a real threat," Gard said. "The vendor was doing some testing and it accidentally got out. Just like anything else, human error comes into effect."

But the mistake has students concerned.

"It's just irresponsible," said Brittany White, UT Doctoral Student. "That's the biggest part of it. It's dangerous to have that false alarm."

UT has been accepting bids for a new vendor for the past couple of months and say the recent mistakes have nothing to do with that decision. It was just timing.

"We wanted to upgrade our technology," Gard said. "Like all technology, it changes pretty quickly. We've had this vendor for three years now. We were looking at what was available and what other schools were using. We thought this is something we want to deliver to our population."

UT administrators say getting a system that works is one of its main priorities.

"We count on this to get the word out to our community," Gard explained. "We expect the community to take action. We issue these when there is an imminent threat. When your safety is in danger, we need to get it out fast and we need to know they've received it."

UT said the bidding process for the new vendor has already been completed. The next steps will be having those vendors come in and demonstrate their product.

Officials hope to have the new system up and running by June 30.


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