U to test emergency PA system Monday

Testing will take place at six campus locations.

University of Minnesota students who plan to stay on campus for spring break could be in for a noisy Monday. The University will be testing a new outdoor emergency public address system at six campus locations during the day. Terry Cook , director of emergency management, said the tests will assist in system design so that they can gauge how far the sound travels and what size speakers are needed at each location. After the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the University came up with a list of communication needs, and Cook said this is the final system to be added. In an e-mail, University spokesman Daniel Wolter said the University already uses Twitter, Facebook, TXT-U and emergency e-mails, and this is a low-tech, but essential, add-on to what is already in place. Due to the disruptive nature of the system, it will only be used in extreme situations. Cook said the system would be used for major emergencies such as chemical spills, shootings or natural disasters. Cook said although the system has the capabilities to produce a typical outdoor warning siren or alert tone, it will instead be used for voice transmission, either a pre-recorded or live verbal message. Speakers will be mounted on buildings and on 60-foot tall steel poles that will be painted maroon. On Monday, there will be a sound truck and speakers will be hoisted 35 feet in the air, and several people will be observing from different distances.