A campus-wide notification system intended to keep the UWindsor community safe and informed in an emergency while providing real-time information sharing with public safety agencies won accolades at a recent Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Toronto.
In a first for an educational institution, the Microsoft Technology Innovation 2012 Award was presented to Sgt. Chris Zelezney and Campus Police director Mike MacKinnon for a project that was lauded as providing “new ideas demonstrating creativity and innovation in using technology to help in the advancement of policing, specifically for front-line service providers.”
Zelezney, the University’s emergency management coordinator, and his team worked with software consultant Cynthia Weeden, FutureShield Inc. and UWindsor’s IT department, to combine mass notification, emergency operations, mapping and situational awareness software to provide a seamless emergency protocol for the campus in the University’s Emergency Operations Centre and corresponding regional, provincial and federal first-responders.
“We wanted to put together a program that was multi-dimensional,” Zelezney says. “Not only do we provide instant mass emergency notification to all registered users in the UWindsor community through text messaging, e-mail, cell and home phone messaging, but the system has cameras that can monitor the progress of pre-determined evacuation routes and medical triage sites. We also have the ability to provide a common operating picture for emergency responders that includes GIS mapping, plume modelling software, and information sharing that can be accessed by authorized users from anywhere in the world.”
Zelezney says that a live international public safety exercise in February 2011 allowed public safety partners like the Windsor Police Service, the Detroit Department of Homeland Security, the OPP and various Windsor-Essex County emergency operations centres to test regional communications among their agencies for the first time.
“We had a vision that our campus implements a comprehensive safety and notification program,” Zelezney says. “And it was through this vision that we developed a tool that has grown in scope to be a model for national and international public safety efforts and the first of its kind for an educational institution. We were honoured to receive the MTIA award and doubly honoured to work with first-line emergency agencies in providing service to our community.”