Neighbors of University of Richmond now have access to emergency alert messages sent by the university’s emergency notification system.

The university is encouraging neighbors to use Twitter’s “Fast Follow” feature in order to receive tweets on their phones as text messages. Anyone — even those without Twitter accounts — can sign up for Fast Follow. There is no charge for the service, but users could incur text message charges from their cell phone carriers.

“By signing up for Fast Follow, neighbors will receive, as a text message, critical safety information during an emergency impacting campus,” said Brittany Schaal, the university’s director of emergency management.

Neighborhood associations near the university recently received a letter explaining the process, Schaal said. Anyone who wants to follow UR Alert should text “follow uralert” to 404-04. They will receive a confirmation from Twitter, saying they are following @uralert and that tweets will be sent to them via text message.

 Neighbors have been requesting access to UR Alert for some time, but until now, there was no way to include them, Schaal said. Parents of current Richmond students also may sign up for the service.

 UR Alert messages are posted to the university’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as its web site at http://alert.richmond.edu/. A new web page, http://preparedness.richmond.edu/ gives students and neighbors important information about preparing in advance for emergencies.

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