A commuting IU Southeast student will save a trip in the event of snow canceling classes and be alerted of a tornado warning or some other emergency within minutes through a university-wide notification system announced Wednesday.

Indiana University plans to roll out the Connect-ED communication service in October, joining Purdue University, University of Louisville and a growing number of college campuses nationwide implementing technology-based communication systems in the wake of the Virginia Tech and recent Delaware State University shootings.

The system selected by IU is provided by the NTI Group Inc., a Delaware-based company that provides notification to local governments, agencies, college campuses and K-12 school districts.

Larry Mead, vice chancellor of information technology at IU Southeast, said students will have an opportunity to sign up for the service beginning next month.

Through a Web site, students will have a chance to choose between a variety of platforms for messages — including text messaging, e-mail and land-line phones. Faculty and staff will be registered automatically.

“It provides a means not just for some sort of tragic event like Virginia Tech, but a way to communicate to students and staff if there is a tornado coming or there is a snowstorm and we’re closing campus,” Mead said.

Other safety measures coming soon include the installation of fire alarms outfitted with speakers, a system that will enable messages to go out simultaneously to all campus phones and a siren system that blankets the campus, Mead said.

“I think (the notification system) will be a powerful tool, but we’re going to use it in conjunction with other tools we are working on now,” Mead said.

Mead said the system can be customized so that nonemergency messages — such as a reminder of an upcoming deadline for financial aid forms — can be sent to a select group on campus.

“Even when we have student housing, 95 percent of our students are commuters coming from as far away as Tell City and Madison and down into Kentucky,” Mead said. “We have a huge reach. It can be very valuable just for the regular things that happen. Hopefully, we’ll never have to us it for a tragic event.”

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