Illini-Alert test exceeds CITES’ expectations

By Kevin McLoughlin

The latest trial run for Illini-Alert, held Tuesday, has exceeded CITES expectations, according to officials.

All of the approximately 134,000 e-mail and text messages left the vendor system within five minutes, a marked improvement from the previous test Feb. 17, said Michael Corn, chief privacy and security officer for Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services.

Considering the goal was set at six minutes, Corn considers this test a success. However, CITES can only track the messages until they reach the cell phone or e-mail provider. After this point, it is up to those systems to disperse the messages.

“We can’t track when it is actually delivered to your phone or Gmail account – we do track when the message was handed off successfully,” Corn said.

CITES is going through reports from those who did not receive messages Tuesday morning.

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Early reports indicate that almost every user received the message via text or e-mail, but a few dozen did not receive both, and there are potentially more users who will not report their difficulties.

Further research is being conducted to determine whether the incidents are due to continuing difficulties with Illini-Alert or problems on the part of cell phone and e-mail service providers. There have been no difficulties discovered yet with specific cell phone companies or e-mail providers during Tuesday’s test, unlike the previous test, Corn said.

“The problems are fractions of a percent,” Corn said. “The system performed well in excess of our expectations, and we are very satisfied.”

In order to ensure that the system continues functioning optimally, tests will occur periodically campuswide and regularly on a much smaller scale, he added.

While these tests are designed to increase security on campus, students are divided on how much safer they feel because of the system.

Isabelle Collazo, sophomore in FAA, said that she definitely felt safer on campus because of Illini-Alert, as students can learn about incidents no matter where they are on campus.

Collazo said she received her text at 10:03 Tuesday morning.

“People might not look at it if you test it too much,” said Kaitlin Lang, a junior in FAA. Lang received her text promptly at 10 a.m. Lang said that she did not necessarily feel safer because of this system, as she did not think the system would discourage incidents on campus. “But I do feel better that I’m informed,” she said.