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Campuses clamor for danger alert system

Virginia State Police stand guard on April 17 outside Norris Hall, where 31 people were shot and killed a day earlier on the Virginia Tech campus.

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: There's concern about better emergency notification on college campuses following the Virginia Tech shooting. Andrea Gardner has the story of one company's technological solution.


ANDREA GARDNER: For the past two years, the company Omnilert has been trying to sell colleges its e2campus system.

It enables a school to send a text message simultaneously to all students with a cell phone, notifying them of an emergency or other campus news.

Omnilert's Nick Gustavsson believes text messaging is the best way to reach students since about 90 percent of them carry cell phones. The service costs $1 per student per year.

Before the Virginia Tech shootings, only 30 colleges had subscribed to the service.

NICK GUSTAVSSON: There's been a lot of early adopters on board who have had to convince their administrations that this is the way to go, and now this issue has taken front-and-center. So the response in the last couple of days has literally been, the phone off the hook.

In past few days, he says, some 650 colleges have come calling.

I'm Andrea Gardner for Marketplace.

About the author

Andrea Gardner is a journalism professor and writer in Pasadena, Calif.

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