Neighbors FAQs

Roger Williams University has completed the installation of an outdoor Emergency Siren Warning System (ESWS) on its main campus. The system consists of five 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 Rave Alert 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:// spill.mp3.

As a neighbor, will I hear the siren and/or the voice message?

While the University has designed the system to minimize the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods, the siren may be audible from your home depending upon your proximity to the campus and weather conditions. In addition, while you may hear the siren, you may not hear the corresponding broadcast announcement.

What should I do if I hear the sirens?

Typically your response, should you hear the siren, would be to take shelter indoors.

Will the Bristol Police & Fire Departments know if the ESWS is activated?

Yes, the University will have systems in place to notify local police and fire officials when the system is being activated, making them aware of the emergency and giving them the information they will need to respond appropriately.

If I do hear the siren, how can I obtain information on why it was activated?

Neighbors can sign up for Rave Alert, the University’s existing emergency notification system that sends messages via phone, e-mail and/or text message when activated by the University. Should you choose this option, you will be registered under a special “neighbors group,” which would only send you those messages that may impact you. In addition to the Rave Alert system, you will also be able to obtain information when the siren is activated by accessing the University’s website (

How do I sign up for Connect-Ed?

Please fill out and return the form attached to these FAQ’s.

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 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)

How often will the ESWS be used?

Although we cannot anticipate the frequency of the siren’s usage, we anticipate that it will be activated on rare occasions.

Who can I contact for more information?

If you have any questions or comments regarding Roger Williams University’s ESWS, please contact the Office of University Outreach & Engagement at 254-3410.