S.A.F.E., the campus emergency alert system, will be replaced after only five months of service, the IT department announced on February 11.
The decision came out after the alert system malfunctioned on February 6, when a delayed start notice was sent out. Many students reported that they did not receive a notification from the app.
“While we investigate a replacement, we want to be sure that we can get communications out to the community effectively,” wrote Mr. Aaron Mandel, director of IT, in an email. “To this end, we plan to leverage Veracross to send SMS/Text messages in the event of a weather-related or campus safety event.”
Before S.A.F.E.—short for “Safety Alerts for Education”—was introduced to campus in September, the Academy had been using the RAVE alert system to notify students about potential safety and security hazards, as well as drills on campus through text messages and automated phone calls.
While RAVE was efficient, there were also problems. International students had reported that they were not able to receive emergency alerts due to their foreign phone numbers on file. The system was also costly.
S.A.F.E., on the other hand, is a free-of-charge for schools. But students have expressed concerns about the app’s behaviors. “The app has been constantly tracking my location data—even when I’m off-campus,” Teddy Hwang ’22 told The Governor.
Teddy is skeptical. “While they may not share any personal information tied to the geolocation data, it doesn’t take a lot to pinpoint it to a specific person,” he said. In December, Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel of the New York Times managed to identify the personal information of millions of people based on anonymized location data.
The Academy has yet to reveal an exact replacement plan for the emergency alert system.