Indoor, outdoor loudspeakers coming to TCU emergency notification system

Loudspeakers will soon be installed on campus –  indoors and outdoors – to alert students and faculty to emergency situations.

The speakers won't resemble conventional cone shaped civil defense sirens, said John Roark, TCU's director of emergency preparedness and business continuity. Instead, they will be able to distribute an array of information ranging from pre-recorded messages, to sirens and alarms, he said. 

Roark added that in the event of an unpredictable scenario, officials will also have the capability to record and broadcast messages in near-real time, keeping students and faculty informed.

The installation is expected to take place over the next two years, with construction to begin soon. 

The loudspeakers are the next logical step to enhance the campus emergency notification system, Roark said. 

TCU Alert was launched in 2008, five months after the Virginia Tech shootings. Currently, TCU Alert sends out campus wide notifications through email, text messages and phone calls.    

Indoor speakers are expected to be installed in "all manned buildings that have fire alarm panels," Roark said. The outdoor locations will be determined after a sound survey is completed. 

The new system will be linked to the campus fire alarm. The entire system was recently rewired to make it easier to link components together with fiber optic cabling. 

A policy outline is currently being written to dictate who will have the authority to activate the system going forward. The Office of Communication, a part of the Division of Marketing and Communication, issues emergency alerts.  

Once the new system is in place, Roark said there is a plan to coordinate with Fort Worth Police in the event of a natural disaster. "For tornadoes, we’ll match the city,” he said. 

The entire project is under the University Security Advisory Committee who regularly updates the Chancellor and the Chancellor's Cabinet on such projects.

Roark also said the TCU Police Department will house the computer system that manages the entire notification system because it is equipped with a backup generator and can transmit and issue alerts and messages if there's a power failure. The Physical Plant will serve as a secondary backup.

The speakers will have a battery backup and solar chargers to help them remain operational if power is lost. 
"They will operate for a specific number of hours without power and on battery backup," Roark said.