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‘Jackrabbit Alert’ app to replace Everbridge

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‘Jackrabbit Alert’ app to replace Everbridge

Hunter Dunteman

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The spread of information is crucial in this modern age, even more so when lives could be on the line.

For instances when seconds do count, South Dakota State University is developing a new emergency alert app.

“Jackrabbit Alert,” is designed to better inform students of a variety of threats to campus.

SDSU currently uses a service called Everbridge, which is active for every public education institution in the state and runs through the South Dakota Board of Regents.

Jackrabbit Alert is in the early stages of development and will be specific to the SDSU campus. This will allow for more customization in design and service utilization. According to SDSU Emergency Management Specialist Jayme Trygstad, the app is meant to be much more “fluent” than the current Everbridge system.

Students currently receive alerts using their home information, but switching to Jackrabbit Alert would result in alerts being released based on their campus information.

This change creates the potential for messages to be more targeted and allows the system to run more efficiently.

The Everbridge system currently sends alerts to all enrolled students and staff, meaning some online students or staff who do not attend the Brookings campus are receiving alerts that do not apply to them. This can slow down the system.

Jackrabbit Alert will also make it easier to update how you wish to be notified of an emergency. Currently, students are only notified via email until they set their preferences at orientation or online.

The current emergency alert system, which can only be activated by Trygstad or the University Police Department, recently faced criticism by students when rumors of an active shooter on campus highlighted potential issues in the notification process.

Kendra Hanks, a junior early childhood education major, questioned in a tweet how the Argus Leader managed to hear rumors of an active shooter on campus before she did.

The report, which was unsubstantiated, prompted an all-clear notification to be released.

“I didn’t see an email until the next morning,” said Alan Garcia, a sophomore nursing major. Upon hearing rumors, he said he turned to social media to make his own judgment about the threat at hand.

Director of University Marketing and Communications Mike Lockrem said emergency alerts are “used primarily for an immediate threat,” and added that there was no credible threat in that situation.

Beyond the all-clear notice, all other alerts have pertained to weather threatening the Brookings area, such as warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms or flash floods.

Since May, all other SDBOR public institutions combined had seven alerts, while SDSU alone had five.

Until the new app is released, SDSU will continue delivering alerts through the Everbridge system.

A release date for Jackrabbit Alert has yet to be set.

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‘Jackrabbit Alert’ app to replace Everbridge