Tip of the Week: UTAlert Problems

by Brian Gard on September 10, 2013

“I didn’t get the alert.”  “It took over an hour.”  “I got the email but not the text.”  These are common comments following UTAlert activations.  Most of the time it’s an issue of understanding the difference between a safety notice and a UTAlert.  Safety Notices are e-mails sent to all NetID accounts about serious crimes and are generally used to notify the community of general details of an incident and provide safety information to aid in the prevention of future similar incidents.  A UTAlert is issued for timely warning of emergencies, and you are required to sign up to receive them.

Sometimes people receive the Safety Notice e-mails and think they are signed up for UTAlert.  If you haven’t visited the sign-up page, you are NOT receiving UTAlerts.  There will be a test of the system on the afternoon of September 20.

UTAlert texts are quickly delivered by the system to phone carriers; however, the time it takes for texts to reach individual phones varies depending on the mobile carrier.  It is a complex system, and technical glitches do happen, but the delivery success rate is more than 99%.  Common problems include blocked delivery due to phone settings or the mobile carrier account, outdated contact information, and e-mails being automatically sent to junk mail.  The UTAlert Frequently Asked Questions section offers tips to correct problems, or you can e-mail utalert-help@utk.edu or call 865-974-3061 for assistance.  Reporting problems helps the Office of Emergency Management ensure the system is functioning properly.

Another common misconception is that UTAlert is just text and e-mail.  The campus mass notification system is designed to notify the community of emergency situations and is not dependent on reaching each individual.  Being aware of the other methods of emergency information delivery will help you be proactive and better informed. Students, faculty and staff are asked to share alert information with others and not assume that everyone has received the alert.

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