PSUAlert: Frequently asked questions

As announced earlier this year, Penn State is transitioning to a new emergency messaging system called PSUAlert, away from the current service known as PSUTXT. Beginning on May 14 and continuing through early June, Penn State students, faculty and staff will receive an email at their Penn State email address that will contain an invitation to sign up for PSUAlert.

Penn State will continue to use the old PSUTXT system for emergency alerts until the end of the day on June 30, at which point PSUAlert will become the University’s sole emergency messaging system.

To learn more about the transition, read this article.

Overview

Enrollment / eligibility questions

Receiving messages


General questions


Overview

What is happening?

Penn State is in the midst of a transition to a new emergency alerts system. The transition began on May 14 and will continue through June 30. The current system, PSUTXT, will be phased out and will be replaced by a new system, called PSUAlert.

 

How can I sign up?

To sign up, Penn State students, faculty and staff should visit http://psualert.psu.edu/, select the "continue" button, and sign in using their Penn State Access ID and password.

 

Which Penn State campuses are involved?

This transition is taking place at all Penn State campuses, with the exception of Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, Pa., which has its own emergency messaging system in place.

Students, faculty and staff at all locations will use their Penn State ID and password to log in and update their information after the system has launched this summer.

Employees and students on the Penn State Hershey campus, which uses a separate identity management system in addition to Penn State Access, will receive additional instruction throughout May and June. To make changes to their PSUAlert contact information, students and employees at Penn State Hershey will need to be sure they have an active Penn State access account.

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Enrollment / eligibility questions

I am a current PSUTXT subscriber. What will happen to my PSUTXT account?

After June 30, 2014, the PSUTXT service will be decommissioned. Students, faculty and staff who currently receive PSUTXT messages will need to re-enter their emergency contact information when they receive their PSUAlert signup invitation by email in May or June. No information will be carried over from PSUTXT to PSUAlert, so it will be imperative that they take this step. Throughout June, regular reminders will be sent to students, faculty and staff using multiple communications platforms.

The PSUTXT system will not be used to send messages after June 30. Members of the public who wish to follow PSUAlert messages on Twitter or Facebook can visit http://news.psu.edu/PSUAlert-social.

 

Can I still sign up for the old PSUTXT system?

Yes. Those who wish to sign up for PSUTXT in the interim are welcome to do so at http://psutxt.psu.edu/, but with the understanding that the system will be decommissioned at the end of June. Until then, PSUTXT will continue to be used to distribute emergency messages.

 

Who is eligible to add contact information to PSUAlert?

Signup for PSUAlert is reserved for Penn State students, faculty and staff.

In an emergency, seconds count. The larger the number of subscribers to PSUAlert, the longer it will take emergency messages to reach those who are directly in Penn State’s care – our students, faculty and staff.

The Clery Act, a federal law related to campus safety, requires that Penn State reach our entire campus community as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency. Reserving signup for students, faculty and staff also is a best practice among many of our peer institutions, whose goal in an emergency is the same as Penn State’s: to reach their campus communities with crucial information in the most efficient, effective ways possible, and to mitigate messaging delays.

 

I'm a student. Can I add my parent(s), guardian(s) or family members to my PSUAlert account?

Yes. Students who wish to add a parent / guardian or family member as a recipient of PSUAlert messages can do so. Each student can have up to three text numbers, three voice numbers and three email addresses in the system, including their own.

All students, faculty and staff are asked to limit the addition of others’ contact information when possible, in order to ensure the efficient delivery of messages in an emergency. Members of the public who wish to follow PSUAlert messages on Twitter or Facebook can visit http://news.psu.edu/PSUAlert-social.

 

I’m a member of Penn State’s faculty or staff. Can I add a spouse / partner or other family member to my PSUAlert account?

Yes. Faculty and staff who wish to add a spouse/partner or other family member as a recipient of PSUAlert messages can do so. Faculty and staff members can have up to three text numbers, three voice numbers and three email addresses in the system, including their own.

All students, faculty and staff will be asked to limit the addition of others’ contact information when possible, in order to ensure the efficient delivery of messages in an emergency. Members of the public who wish to follow PSUAlert messages on Twitter or Facebook can visit http://news.psu.edu/PSUAlert-social.

 

I’m a member of the public. How can I receive PSUAlert messages?

Though signup for the PSUAlert system will be reserved for students, faculty and staff, members of the public are encouraged to follow alerts via Facebook and Twitter by visiting http://news.psu.edu/PSUAlert-social.

Additionally, in the event of an emergency, detailed communications will be distributed on many other platforms, including campus and university-wide websites, all of which are open to the public. Communications with the media also will play a crucial role in getting information to the public in the event of an emergency.

 

I’m an emergency responder or local official. Will I be able to receive alerts for the Penn State campus in my backyard?

Yes. Leaders and active membership of local police/fire/EMS organizations, local and regional emergency management officials, and local and regional elected officials are welcome to contact their local Penn State campus to begin the process of signing up for PSUAlert.

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Receiving messages

What kinds of messages will be sent to me?

PSUAlert is used to notify members of Penn State’s campus communities when situations arise that present an ongoing threat to students, faculty and staff; and when events affect a campus’s ability to operate normally (during inclement weather, for example). The system will never be used to send advertising or spam messages.

To ensure that the system is operating smoothly, occasional test messages will be sent, along with periodic surveys designed to improve user experience.

 

Does it cost anything to sign up for PSUAlert?

No. There is no charge to use the PSUAlert system, though your cell phone carrier might charge you for text messages. Check with your carrier regarding your service plan.

 

Can I choose not to receive PSUAlert messages by email?

Beginning May 14, all students, faculty and staff will begin receiving PSUAlert messages by email. Because this service will be used to provide timely warning to each Penn State campus community in the event of an emergency, everyone must receive these notices by email.

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to add contact information, including cell phone numbers for text alerts, phone numbers for voice alerts and additional email addresses. In the event of an emergency, having additional contact information in the database will help authorities to reach you with critical information.

 

How can I choose the campus whose alerts I will receive?

Beginning May 14 and continuing through June, all Penn State students, faculty and staff will receive an email inviting them to sign up for the new PSUAlert service. When they arrive at the PSUAlert signup portal, every student, faculty and staff member will need to choose at least one campus whose alerts they wish to receive. In most cases, the PSUAlert system automatically will choose a primary campus for each user based on their entry in the Penn State directory.

 

Can I receive alerts for more than one campus?

Yes. Students, faculty and staff are free to sign up for alerts from as many Penn State campuses as they would like.

 

My primary campus location is different than my actual work location. What should I do?

Your default PSUAlert campus location is the primary campus location defined for you in the Penn State directory. If you are working at different location(s) you may add those locations to your PSUAlert profile by visiting the portal at http://psualert.psu.edu/.

 

From what email address will my PSUAlert messages arrive?

All PSUAlert emails sent to you at your psu.edu email address will come from alert@psu.edu, and have been configured to avoid your spam filters.

If you also have elected to receive alert messages at an email address hosted by a third-party provider, such as Gmail or Yahoo Mail, those messages will come to you from psu@getrave.com. Please check your spam filters with your third-party provider to ensure that PSUAlert messages are arriving in your inbox.

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General questions

What if I’m interested in PSUAlert but I don’t have a cell phone / text messaging capabilities?

Text messaging is just one of the numerous methods Penn State uses to notify its campus communities in the event of an emergency. PSUAlert messages also will be sent:

  • To all Penn State email account holders.
  • To other email addresses as specified by students, faculty and staff.
  • As voice messages to telephones (land line or cell phone).
  • Via Twitter and Facebook (sign up at http://news.psu.edu/PSUAlert-social).

Also, depending upon the situation, additional communications outlets that could be used include:

 

Can I suspend text messages while I’m on vacation or studying abroad?

Yes. Though you will not be able to stop email alerts, all students, faculty and staff can stop text and/or voice alerts by logging in using the PSUAlert portal and turning off messages to their phone number(s). As long as you remain employed or are an active student, you will be able to use the portal to put your cell phone number back into the system when you return.

 

What if my instructor does not allow cell phones in the classroom?

Follow your instructor’s rules regarding classroom use of a cell phone. PSUAlert is just one of several means by which Penn State will communicate in times of crisis.

 

Will my contact information be shared with any third parties, other than the University’s emergency messaging service provider?

No. Penn State and the text messaging service provider will protect your contact information and will not share it with anyone. Your information will be used only to send you emergency alerts, occasional test messages and periodic surveys designed to improve user experience.

 

I have a question not answered here. Who should I contact?

Please contact us by email at PSUAlert@psu.edu.

 

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Last Updated June 18, 2014