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NKU Expands, Enhances Emergency Notification System

From Northern Kentucky University:


The Northern Kentucky University Police Department announced today an upgrade and expansion of the school’s emergency alert system.

The university has partnered with First Call Emergency Notification – one of the nation’s most trusted, innovative and dependable leaders in emergency notification – to offer more features on its free Norse Alert system that notifies students and employees of criminal, medical, weather-related or other campus emergencies.

“We have worked hard to ensure that NKU’s emergency notification system is fast, accurate and effective,” said Jason Willis, chief of police. “We take emergency preparedness very seriously, and a critical part of that is having a notification system in place that is robust, efficient and useful during actual emergency situations.”

Willis said the new system will allow voice and text messages to be delivered more quickly and with fewer call failures. First Call uses a cloud infrastructure with data centers in five states, which allows messages to be delivered quickly even during high call volumes. It also allows for geo-targeted messaging using a GIS mapping system and focused campus messaging to computers in an affected emergency area. The new system also can send messages to devices for the hearing impaired and can translate messages into other languages.

“A lot of time and energy has gone into improving this system,” Willis said. “Without the excellent work of NKU Information Technology, we would not have been able to roll out such a dynamic and improved service. The IT staff was instrumental in making this a reality, and will continue to play a central role in maintaining and upgrading our notification system.”
One major upgrade is “Alert the Norse,” a service available within the university’s latest iNKU mobile app that makes it easy to report criminal activity or suspicious behavior. Users are encouraged to use Alert the Norse to report:

  • Overheard conversations about committing or attempting a crime;
  • Information about drug-related offenses on campus;
  • Potentially unsafe conditions such as a burned out light bulb in a common walkway;
  • Vandalism on or near campus;
  • Weapons on campus;
  • Any other suspicious individuals or activity on or near campus.

Those without access to the mobile app, which is available for the iPhone at or for the Android at, can simply text tips to (859) 448-1002.

Norse Alert was established in 2009 in the wake of a series of campus shootings that highlighted the need for higher education institutions to be able to communicate quickly with students and others on campus. It is used to alert the campus community when a serious threat exists and immediate action must be taken to remain safe and secure. It is also used to announce unscheduled closings and cancellations due to severe weather.

In addition to the free call/text notification service, the university has a number of well-established communication methods including campus sirens and speakers;; broadcast e-mail and voice messages; a weather closings hotline at (859) 572-6165 or -6166; and 89.7FM WNKU radio.

Norse Alert is open to anyone with an NKU username interested in receiving emergency notifications from NKU. Online registration is available at