Alert Carolina is the emergency notification system for the University and is comprised of four message types: Emergency Notification, Crime Alert, Informational and Adverse Conditions. Alert Carolina uses a variety of tools to communicate with the University depending on the type of message issued. Activation of the system will be authorized by specific senior members of UNC Police, Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) or Emergency Management and Planning depending on the type of emergency or dangerous situation and the type of message required.
A complete list of the tools used to communicate with the community is as follows:
Emergency Notification messages are sent when there is a significant emergency or dangerous situation that involves an immediate threat to health or safety on campus. UNC Police is typically the unit confirming the facts indicating that an emergency notification is necessary and sending these messages because of their role as first responders. Officials from Environment, Health and Safety and Emergency Management and Planning may also authorize these messages as needed. Once the emergency has been confirmed or there is a reasonable belief of an immediate threat to health and safety on campus, the University will immediately notify the entire campus community, including those at the Kenan-Flagler Charlotte Campus and the Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City. The University will, without delay and considering the safety of the community, determine the content of the notification and activate the notification system. However, if in the professional judgment of responsible authorities issuing an emergency notification would compromise efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond to or otherwise mitigate the emergency, the notification may be delayed. In those cases, the University’s Chief of Police, or the ranking UNC Police officer in charge during the Chief’s absence, will be notified and once the potentially compromising situation has been addressed the emergency notification will be issued immediately.
UNC Police will issue a Crime Alert to notify the campus community of any Clery Act crime occurring on Clery geography that poses a serious or continuing danger to the campus community. The Crime Alert will be issued as soon as the information is available so people can protect themselves and/or their property from similar crimes. If UNC Police believes issuing a Crime Alert would compromise efforts to assist a victim or effectively investigate the crime, the notification may be delayed until the potentially compromising situation has been addressed.
Crime alerts are sent via text message to the cellphone numbers registered by students, faculty and staff in the online campus directory, email to University email accounts, push notifications through the Carolina Ready app, the Alert Carolina website, the University’s homepage, and official UNC-Chapel Hill Twitter and Facebook accounts, including those for UNC Police.
Informational messages are sent to the campus community to make them aware of situations that do not meet the criteria for a Crime Alert but would otherwise be of interest to the University community. They may also be issued as updates to previously issued Crime Alerts or Emergency Notifications. Examples of situations that may result in the distribution of an informational message are when a crime or incident occurs outside of the University’s Clery geography or when an incident occurs that is not a Clery qualifying crime but is nevertheless a safety concern.
All students and employees are automatically enrolled to receive email messages from Alert Carolina via their University provided email account. Students, faculty and staff and affiliates at the University may sign up for text messages. To sign up for text messages, visit the Onyen Account website, select ‘Update AlertCarolina Number’ and add a phone number or update the phone number provided. Students and employees are also reminded to register or update their phone number when updating their Onyen password. All phone numbers provided will be treated as confidential information. Anyone may visit and/or follow the Alert Carolina and UNC websites, the Alert Carolina, UNC and UNC Police Twitter accounts and the UNC and UNC Police Facebook accounts for information about alerts. The Carolina Ready app is available for download on both the Apple and Android app stores.
There were no siren activations other than announced system tests in calendar year 2022. For more information on the University’s policies and procedures in the event of an emergency, please visit the Alert Carolina website.
Conducting training and exercises are essential steps in improving the University’s ability to activate its emergency notification system and ensure that equipment and procedures are maintained in a constant state of readiness. UNC Police conducted Active Shooter training in June 2022 for all sworn personnel. Emergency Management and Planning conducted Emergency Coordination Training for senior policy officials in September 2022, which included instruction on emergency management statutes and UNC System Office support, lessons learned from an incident at another UNC system school, and a discussion-based active shooter tabletop exercise. In January 2023, the University conducted a series of simulated Alert Carolina activation drills to ensure that University officials involved in ordering and sending Alert Carolina messages were familiar with their roles. The University conducts after-action reviews of all emergency management exercises. All after-action reviews include, but are not limited to, a description of the exercise, the date, time, whether it was announced or unannounced, and voluntary feedback from participating members. In addition, the University tests its emergency sirens three times a year and additionally as appropriate (e.g., to test significant upgrades as the system is periodically improved). In 2022, siren tests were conducted on Feb. 16, June 28, and Sept. 21. The University community was informed via email prior to each test. The University also coordinates closely with the UNC System Office to fully participate in emergency preparedness activities and work being coordinated across the UNC System.
Emergency Management and Planning is responsible for maintaining the University’s emergency plans, including Building Emergency Action Plans and the University’s Emergency Operations Plan. More information on campus preparedness can be found on the Carolina Ready website.
Environment, Health and Safety is responsible for maintaining evacuation plans and procedures. More information on evacuation procedures can be found on the EHS website.