Automated warning system misdials during Monday test

Monday, December 3, 2007 | 8:52 p.m. CST; updated 5:24 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Confusion about the authenticity of calls related to campus security might require the MU Emergency Information Technology Center to retest an automated warning system.

About 260 people were contacted this afternoon by the center as part of a MU Division of Technology internal test.

The trial test was supposed to reach only IT employees, but some people had been contacted by mistake, including an employee at University Hospital, IT spokesman Terry Robb said.

Individuals were contacted either via e-mail, phone or text message. The automated system contacted people twice if they failed to pick up or confirm their contact information during the first notification.

Bob Beacon, system support analyst for family and community medicine at University Hospital, was notified about the call and thought it was suspicious. About 3:15 p.m., he sent an e-mail warning hospital employees not to give out personal information.

Robb responded by e-mail that the calls were not a hoax. The miscommunication could result in IT making another round of calls, he said.

The test call was recorded by Robb, and recipients were asked to indicate the best way to be contacted in case of emergency.

The University Emergency Information Technology Center was set up after the Virginia Tech shootings on April 16. It serves as a way for the campus administration to inform faculty, staff and students in case of an emergency.

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