Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the UPennAlert Emergency Notification System?
- What are Personal Electronic Devices and what technology does the University use to send a UPennAlert to them?
- What is the Penn Siren Outdoor System (Penn SOS) and what technology is used to send a UPennAlert with this system?
- Why does the University of Pennsylvania need Penn SOS?
- How will Penn use the UPennAlert emergency notification system?
- What other means will be used by Penn to communicate emergency information?
- Will Penn be testing the UPennAlert system?
- I am not a Penn Faculty, Staff or Student of the University. Can I receive notifications on my personal electronic device (cell, email, etc)?
- Who can I contact for More Information?
- Will Penn correct my personal contact information when it is wrong?
- On what devices will I receive an emergency notification?
Personal Electronic Devices
- How do I enter my contact information for use by the UPennAlert system?
- Can I change my emergency contact preferences?
- What contact information should I use for the UPennAlert system?
- How will I know when I receive a message from the UPennAlert system?
- How do I know that all of my personal data will be secure and protected by the University and by MIR3™?
- Will I receive unsolicited messages ("SPAM") on my cell phone or email account as a result of giving my cell phone number to the University?
- Is there a charge for subscribing to receive emergency messages via the UPennAlert system?
- Do I need to install software on my PDA or cell phone to receive text messages or emails?
- When will you deactivate my subscription to the UPennAlert system?
- If I switch cell phone service providers, do I have to notify Penn that I have changed providers, even though my cell phone number remains the same?
UPennAlert is a Mass Notification System (MNS) that is used for fast and efficient dissemination of critical information during an emergency. Currently the University can notify all Penn faculty, staff and students via personal electronic devices (cell phones, pda, handhelds, etc,) through text messaging, voicemail and email. The DPS website will also be used to continue to update the public as an event unfolds. The University can also notify the general public via the Penn Siren Outdoor System (Penn SOS) which can emit voice intelligible emergency messages from 13 strategically placed sirens across Penn’s campus.
What are Personal Electronic Devices and what technology does the University use to send a UPennAlert to them?
The term 'Personal Electronic Devices' is used to describe common personal communication technology. This includes, cell phones, PDA devices and landlines.
The University uses MIR3™ to send all notifications via personal electronic devices. MIR3 is the technology leader in Intelligent Notification (IN™) solutions for global enterprises. For more information about MIR3™, please visit their website at the following address: http://www.mir3.com.
What is the Penn Siren Outdoor System (Penn SOS) and what technology is used to send a UPennAlert with this system?
Penn SOS is an outdoor emergency notification system that serves Penn's campus and the surrounding community.
The System uses 13 speakers, strategically placed throughout campus, that can simultaneously or individually be utilized. The speakers can emit an audible alert or voice intelligible message to a section of campus or the entire University area.
Penn SOS serves as an extra layer of protection to supplement other comprehensive safety protocols at Penn. With the implementation of Penn SOS, mass notification capabilities can be extended to the broader Penn community, visitors and neighbors that are on or near Penn's campus.
In the event of a major emergency affecting the Penn and University City community, you will receive an emergency communication on your phone numbers registered in the Penn Directory via text-message and voicemail, in addition to an email notification sent to your Penn email account, from the Division of Public Safety.
The UPennAlert Emergency Notification System provides our students, faculty and staff with an additional layer of security and protection in emergency response, in conjunction with our already well-established emergency communication methods, which include: University-wide broadcast emails, online updates via the Penn and Division of Public Safety homepages, coordinated use of public media outlets, and public address systems within all College Houses.
YES: The Division of Public Safety, in conjunction with our University partners, will periodically conduct emergency drills using the UPennAlert system. The University community will be notified in advance of all emergency tests and drills.
I am not a Penn Faculty, Staff or Student of the University. Can I receive notifications on my personal electronic device (cell, email, etc)?
Currently, only Penn faculty, staff and students can receive UPennAlerts via personal electronic devices.
If you would like to receive emergency alerts from the City of Philadelphia, sign up for ReadyNotifyPA at http://oem.readyphiladelphia.org/. Click on the ReadyNotifyPA logo. ReadyNotifyPA sends emergency alerts, notifications and updates to the cell phones, pagers, BlackBerries, PDAs and/or e-mail accounts of registered subscribers.
For more information, contact the Division of Public Safety, Office of the Vice President at (215) 898-7515.
Penn will not verify the accuracy of the contact information you enter. Please check and edit your information as necessary to ensure that the University's records are accurate and up to date.
You will receive an emergency notification from the UPennAlert system on devices (i.e. cell phones and landlines) included in your Penn Directory or Penn InTouch listing. Additionally, an email notification will be sent to your listed University email account, and any email accounts registered.
Personal Electronic Devices
STUDENTS: Access Penn InTouch via the Penn Portal at:
FACULTY/STAFF: Access the Penn Directories via, http://www.upenn.edu/directories. Click on "Update Directory Listings" and log in using your PennKey or access U@Penn directly via, http://www.upenn.edu/u@penn. Click on "My Directory Information" and log in using your PennKey.
For step by step directions on updating your information click on the appropriate button below.
YES: You can adjust your contact information anytime by logging into either Penn InTouch (students) or U@Penn (faculty/staff) using your PennKey and changing the settings. This information will automatically be uploaded to MIR3™'s software application within one hour of submission.
Since the UPennAlert system will be used to notify you in an emergency situation, we strongly recommend that you provide contact information for YOU, the subscriber, such as your cell phone number.
For Students ONLY via Penn InTouch:
Please provide the name and address for "Other Emergency Contact Person" in the appropriate fields. Additionally, you can enter up to four other phone numbers for emergency contacts (such as parent, spouse, guardian, other cell, other residence, and/or other pager).
We strongly recommend that you include a phone number for a parent/legal guardian in the available field.
The Caller ID function on your cell phone or landline (if available) will display the following number:
This is the emergency communications number (similar to 911) for Penn's Division of Public Safety, and will identify the number as: Penn Pub Safety
How do I know that all of my personal data will be secure and protected by the University and by MIR3™?
The contact information that you enter into the Penn Directory, such as your cell phone number, will only be provided to MIR3™ for the explicit purposes of notifying you in the event of an emergency. MIR3™ has agreed that they have no right to use your contact information for any purpose other than notifying you via the UPennAlert Emergency Notification System. They do not have rights to sell, disclose or trade your contact information.
Only the Individuals employed by the University of Pennsylvania who must use this information to administer and manage the UPennAlert Emergency Notification System will have access to your contact information. No other access will be allowed except as may be required by law.
Will I receive unsolicited messages ("SPAM") on my cell phone or email account as a result of giving my cell phone number to the University?
NO: The UPennAlert system has a rigid security policy in which authorized personnel ONLY are permitted to send messages using the UPennAlert system in the case of an emergency. The UPennAlert system adheres strictly to a ZERO SPAM policy that clearly prohibits unsolicited messages. Furthermore, the University cannot and will not sell the contact information of UPennAlert subscribers to third party marketers.
There is no charge for the UPennAlert service from the University of Pennsylvania. Depending on your wireless carrier provider and the plan you have, you may be charged a nominal fee (e.g. ten cents per message) to receive SMS text messages. For those with unlimited text messaging plans, there would be no additional charge.
NO: The UPennAlert system, as powered by MIR3™, uses a standard industry SMS text messaging protocol to send messages to your phone. Your mobile phone plan will need to accept text messages to work properly.
Your contact information will be removed from the UPennAlert Emergency Notification System when there is a change in your affiliation with the University (for students - graduation; for faculty/staff - change in employment status).
If I switch cell phone service providers, do I have to notify Penn that I have changed providers, even though my cell phone number remains the same?
The UPennAlert system will automatically transfer your contact information from one service provider to the next. If your actual cell phone number changes, you will have to update your most current number with the Penn Directory.
Penn SOS will be tested on the first Friday of every month at 11:00am using Westminster Chimes. Additionally, Penn SOS will be used once a year in conjunction with the University's annually required campus wide test of the UPennAlert Emergency Notification System. This test will be announced in advance and posted on the Public Safety and University of Pennsylvania homepages.
There is no need to take any action when you hear the monthly Penn SOS test. You should continue your regular activities during this test. Only Penn faculty, staff, and students will be instructed on what steps to follow during the annual required UPennAlert Emergency Notification System test. All non-Penn faculty, staff, and students should continue your regular activities during this annual test.
There are three (3) possible sounds you will hear depending on if we are testing the system, having an actual emergency, or sounding an "All Clear”.
Penn SOS will only be activated in case of an emergency after the University Division of Public Safety and University administration assess the need for mass notification. Examples of emergencies where the sirens would likely be activated include:
- Active Shooter on Campus
- Hazardous Materials Incident
- Severe Weather Emergency
Penn SOS will be used to alert you of an on-going or pending emergency situation. Follow the instructions given and wait for an "All Clear" indication from the system. If possible, tune to local TV and radio stations for additional information. Penn staff, faculty, and students should anticipate a message on your personal electronic devices (i.e. cell phone).
To learn more about Evacuation, Shelter-In-Place, Lock Out, Lock Down and other emergency procedures visit the Emergency Procedures page for PennReady.