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As the recent shootings on college campuses have shown, having quick, effective communication with students, faculty, and staff is paramount.
The communications options available to school official are numerous. Many schools already employ an e-mail, voice mail or text message notification system. Other options include a reverse 911 system and using social networking sites like Facebook.
Such systems depend on a high rate of participation to be effective. Consider making registration for the system part of the academic registration process.
However, be careful not to desensitize students to the messages from the system. For example, some companies will give a school a text message system in return for the right to send students advertisements. The spam will likely cause the students to ignore the messages or unsubscribe.
Resist pressure from sales people or parents to get a particular system. Instead, carefully research the needs of your campus population and tailor your communication system to match.