New emergency notification system to be tested Feb. 7

Rice University’s Crisis Management Team will test a new emergency notification system around 11:55 a.m. Feb. 7.

“We’re implementing a new system to take advantage of recent technological advances in the field of mass notification,” said Jerusha Kasch, director of institutional crisis management, in a Jan. 29 letter to students, faculty and staff. “Last year the Crisis Management Team reviewed proposals from a number of vendors and chose to use the services of Everbridge, a global leader for integrated communication about critical events.”

Kasch noted that a “Rice Alert” will often be timely information about a crime, severe weather or some other urgent matter that is intended to keep you safe and may even save your life, so it is important that members of the Rice community get the communication.

a cellphone showing the Everbridge app being held in front of Lovett HallOne of the features of the new system is that it will send a message by different methods until receipt is confirmed. “If you don’t reply to a message that comes in on the Everbridge app or as a text on your cellphone, the system will send a notice to your work and personal emails,” Kasch said. “By confirming receipt, you can stop the system from sending the same message to you by other methods.”

In preparation for the Feb. 7 test, Kasch asked the Rice community to update information in their Esther account by Feb. 5 so that is can be incorporated into the database that will be used for the test.

She also asked the Rice community to download the Everbridge app and sent step-by-step instructions. “I know this long list of instructions may look overwhelming, but you only have to perform these steps once, and then you’ll have an app that’s easy to use,” she said. “The app is not the only way to receive notifications, but it is the fastest way.”

Rice Alerts that are texted to cellphones will come from Rice’s special emergency notification phone number (713-348-8888) or the new SMS short code, 89361. “I recommend that you add that phone number or SMS short code to your cellphone contacts under the name ‘Rice Alert’ so you will be able to recognize messages from the Rice Crisis Management Team,” Kasch said.

The test Feb. 7 will also include announcements over outdoor speakers that have been installed across campus to enable the Rice University Police Department to broadcast messages that can be heard outside during an emergency. The outdoor warning system is not intended to be heard inside buildings.

Students, faculty and staff who update their Esther account and download the Everbridge app but don’t receive the test message Feb. 7 should send an email to that states their name, cellphone number and the name of their cellphone service provider so the university can investigate why the communication didn’t reach them.

Directions for updating emergency notification in the Esther account and for downloading the Everbridge app are listed below. Questions can be sent to Kasch at

Directions for updating Esther:

Log in to your Esther account at and click on “Rice Alert” near the top of the screen. Under “Non-Rice Phone Information” check to be sure your current cellphone number is listed correctly, along with your cellphone service provider. If you have a cellphone for work as well as a personal cellphone, you can list both, but put them in the order in which you would prefer to be contacted. Everbridge will try the first cellphone number before sending a message to the second number. Under “Non-Rice Email Information” type a personal email address if you want notifications to be sent there when you can’t be reached by phone. You should provide this information by 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5, so that it will be in the database in time for the test Feb. 7.

Students should note that if they have their parents’ cellphone numbers registered under the Rice Alert system, their parents will receive emergency alerts as well.

People who don’t know the PIN for their Esther account can use the “Forgot PIN” feature or send an email to if they are employees or to if they are students.

If you do not want to receive emergency notifications, you can check the “Opt Out” box right above the “Submit” button on your Esther page, but Kasch strongly discouraged this because it will prevent you from receiving timely information, including notices about the university closing because of inclement weather, as well as critical info about your safety.

Directions for downloading the Everbridge app:

Go to the App Store on your cellphone, search for Everbridge and download the app. Then follow the steps below.

1. Open the app.
2. Click “Login” under “Already have an account?”
3. Click “Enable Single Sign-On” under “Login.”
4. Tap the line that says “Single Sign-On Key Phrase” and type sammy1912
5. Click “Continue.”
6. On the “Rice Identity Provider” screen, fill in your Rice NetID in lowercase letters; then fill in your password, which can include capital and lowercase letters, depending on what your password is.
7. Click “Login.”
8. On the “Share Your Location?” screen, click “Allow.”
9. When the screen asks if you want to “Allow Everbridge to access your location even when you are not using the app?” you can decide whether to allow that.
10. If you chose “Allow” in response to the question above, on the next screen slide the white circle to the right on the line that says “Always Share My Location.” If you chose “Don’t Allow,” you don’t have to make any changes on this screen.
11. Click “Done” at the bottom of the screen.
12. When you get a pop-up message that says “Everbridge Would Like To Send You Notifications,” click “Allow.”
13. When the “Safety” screen appears, click “OK.”
14. On the “Safety Settings” page, click “4 Digits” on the “Duress Code” line.
15. Enter a four-digit code that you can remember.
16. Type the same four-digit code on the screen asking you to confirm the code.
17. On the “Safety Settings” screen, if “United States” isn’t listed as the country on the “Phone Number” line, select “United States.”
18. On the line that says “Add a phone number,” type your cellphone number.
19. Click <Messages at the top of the screen and then exit from the app by clicking on the home button on your cellphone.

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.