Emergency Alert System FAQs

Roger Williams University has completed the installation of an outdoor Emergency Siren Warning System (ESWS) on its main campus. The system consists of four strategically placed sirens that will be used to warn the University community in the event of a potentially life-threatening emergency.

If a potentially life threatening emergency is identified where a campus-wide ESWS activation is deemed necessary, the Department of Public Safety will activate the system. The activation will consist of an alert tone generally followed by a voice message regarding the nature of the emergency. Additionally, the University will use the RWU website and Connect-Ed notification system to provide further information via Internet, telephone, e-mail and text messaging.

Do other colleges and universities have outdoor mass notification systems?

Since the tragic shooting events at Virginia Tech University, countless colleges and universities have installed outdoor mass notification systems. Locally, Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design have installed such systems. Nationwide, schools such as the University of New Hampshire, Cornell University, Central Connecticut State University, James Madison University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Texas and the University of Southern California (just to name a few) have also installed similar outdoor warning systems.

Where can I learn more about the University’s ESWS system?

Click on the link to view the ESWS website

What do the sirens sound like?

Listen to an audio clip for a simulation of the siren sound at mms://streamer.rwu.edu/training/chemical%20spill.mp3.

When are the sirens tested?

Sirens will be tested at least annually to ensure operational readiness. Test schedules will be announced in advance.

What should I do during a system test?

You should continue your regular activities during a test. You do not need to take any special actions during a test.

What should I do if I hear the sirens during a non-test period?

Students, faculty, staff and visitors who hear the siren should seek shelter by immediately going inside a nearby building unless directed otherwise via emergency public address message. The system will be used to alert people to go indoors / shelter-in-place and seek additional information by doing the following:

  • Listen to the voice message following the siren alert tone
  • Carefully listen to and read all incoming messages via e-mail, text message or telephone voicemail
  • Check the RWU website homepage for updates
  • Limit non-emergency outgoing communications so as not to overburden the phone system

What type of emergencies do the sirens indicate?

Examples of emergencies where the ESWS would likely be activated include:

  • Hostile Intruder (Active Shooter)
  • Large Chemical Release near Campus
  • Natural Disasters (Tornado)

Where can I hear the sirens?

Although the sirens will be loudest within the limits of campus, close proximity neighbors will be able to hear the warning system. For this reason, the University has corresponded with surrounding neighbors of the main campus to ensure that people are aware of the new warning system and have an opportunity to ask questions.

Will I hear the sirens and message indoors?

Depending upon where you are located within a particular University building, you may or may not be able to hear the siren and/or the broadcast announcement. You should remain indoors and await a communication on your cell phone via Rave Alert.

Who can I contact for more information?

If you have any questions or comments regarding Roger Williams University’s ESWS, please contact the Department of Environmental Health & Safety at x3494.