November 1, 2005
Source: University of Toronto:
University first to install Bell Canada's emergency communications system
Software allows U of T to contact faculty, staff, students in the event of a crisis
by Mary Alice Thring (about) (email)
The University of Toronto is the first customer for Bell Canada's crisis communications system. The Emergency Response Management Solution (ERMS) is a computer-based software tool that will allow U of T to establish and maintain contact with faculty, staff and students in the event of a crisis on or off campus.
"The safety of students, staff and faculty is of primary importance," says Professor Angela Hildyard, vice-president (human resources and equity). "Effective communications during any type of emergency is critical. This system will allow us to keep our community informed quickly and consistently at a time when information is vital."
ERMS is organized and pre-programmed with contact information for designated groups and responders. Each divisional crisis response plan will be stored within the program and the voice-to-digital technology allows first responders to contact the system from a personal digital assistant or cell phone to alert the crisis response team. The software is capable of reaching a variety of communications devices (including telephone, e-mail and Blackberrys), increasing the probability of reaching every designated contact in a timely and consistent manner. The system can generate status reports that can be distributed by e-mail or published as pdf's. All communications are logged and can be reviewed for effectiveness in the aftermath of a critical event, emergency or disaster.
"Large organizations and communities have a need to communicate rapidly and efficiently in times of crisis. They also need to deliver accurate information and instructions through a wide variety of devices and connectivity," said Renato Discenza, senior vice-president, Enterprise Group, Bell Canada. "This type of end-to-end information communications technology solution will enable the university to focus its resources on managing the events and responses of their employees and students to enable swift action. This is an example of how Bell is simplifying processes for Canadian businesses so they can focus on the vital tasks at hand."
ERMS is Internet-based and housed on Bell Canada servers, creating greater security options and ensuring continuity no matter the effect of a crisis on the university campus. The ERMS prototype is being tested by U of T campus police and implementation is being phased in on the St. George campus, beginning with after-hours trades and building maintenance staff; further phases include the senior university executive and emergency contacts for all three campuses.
The University of Toronto is Canada's leading teaching and research university and aims to be among the world's best. For eleven consecutive years, U of T has taken the top spot among medical/doctoral universities in the annual Maclean's magazine university ranking. With more than 70,000 students, U of T comprises 28 divisions, colleges and faculties on three campuses. This includes 14 professional faculties, nine fully-affiliated teaching hospitals, numerous research centres and Canada's largest university library system - the fifth largest in North America.
Bell Canada, Canada's national leader in communications, provides connectivity to residential and business customers through wired and wireless voice and data communications, local and long distance phone services, high speed and wireless Internet access, IP-broadband services, e-business solutions and satellite television services. Bell Canada is wholly owned by BCE Inc. For more information please visit www.bell.ca.
Mohammed Nakhooda, Bell Canada Media Relations, 416-581-3311/1-888-482-0809; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org