Please consider downloading the latest version of Internet Explorer
to experience this site as intended.
Tools Search Main Menu

Frequently Asked Questions

What is AlertUR?

AlertUR is part of the comprehensive plan to provide emergency notification to the University of Rochester community. AlertUR uses e-mails, cell phones, and other electronic devices to send out warnings of imminent danger. The alerts contain official University information when a crisis threatens the health and safety of people on or near University property.

Who is eligible for the service?

All undergraduates in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, the Eastman School of Music, and the School of Nursing were the first to be covered in 2008. Since July 1, 2010, all graduate students and faculty and staff in all of the University Divisions covering the River Campus, the Eastman School, and the Memorial Art Gallery are being enrolled.  Beginning February 2013, all URMC faculty, staff and students will be enrolled.

Where can questions or comments be sent about AlertUR?

If you have suggestions or recommendations that you would like to share, please send them to University Communications at:
147 Wallis Hall, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627-0033
(585) 275-4118, Fax: (585) 275-0359,

How do I sign up?

All undergraduate and graduate students, and all faculty and staff in University Divisions, including the Medical Center, are automatically enrolled with their e-mail address assigned by the University.

How do I provide or change my contact methods?

Additional e-mail addresses and other contact information can be added, changed or deleted directly by you on the AlertUR site: You are encouraged to review your information regularly and update it.

How are the alerts delivered?

Alerts are delivered via the contact methods you provide. They may come as text messages to a cell phone or hand-held device, by e-mail to a campus or outside address, by alpha pager, by fax, and by voice messages. Text messages will be delivered more quickly than voice messages. If you elect to receive voice mail messages or text messages, you may incur additional charges.

How do I modify my notification preferences?

Go to and provide your NetID and password. You will see the e-mail address that will automatically receive an emergency notice. You can add other devices for notification by filling in the appropriate information. You can elect to receive a text message, second e-mail to an alternate address, voice message, or alpha page.

What numbers or e-mail addresses should I use for AlertUR?

It is best to provide those numbers that can reach you most quickly. We expect SMS/text messaging via cell phones to be delivered the quickest, followed by e-mail, and then voice messages.

Why is the University adding this alert system?

The University continually reviews its security and crisis systems and considers additional options to improve safety. This is one more vehicle to use to reach out to the University community. The goal is to quickly transmit news and information during crisis situations.

What kinds of situations are considered critical?

These would include in-progress police emergencies, such as an active shooter and at-large criminal suspect who is thought to be on University property and an imminent danger to the community; civil disturbances, acts of terrorism, fires that impact operations, release of hazardous materials and medical emergencies, which pose a severe threat to personal safety and/or cause a major disruption to University operations; warnings about natural disasters, health emergencies, and other dangerous occurrences connected to the University.

Is there a charge? Who pays for the calls and messages?

The University does not charge for the service. Non-cellular e-mail, alpha paging, and landline telephone alerts will be at no charge to the receiver. Depending on the wireless carrier, there may be a nominal fee for those who receive the SMS (Short Message Service) text messages. People with unlimited text messaging plans should get no additional charge.

How will the University decide when to send an alert?

University Security, in immediate consultation with senior leadership of the University, will review information and decide quickly if a situation is a serious threat. AlertUR will be activated when it is clear there is imminent danger that should be communicated quickly. The University also will test the system.

Will I always receive an e-mail notification?

Yes, you will always be notified via your University e-mail address. If you provide additional notification telephone numbers or e-mail addresses, messages will be sent to those devices, too.

How often will test messages be sent?

Tests will be activated semi-annually. There will be no routine University announcements or commercial messages sent through the system.

What telephone number will be displayed to identify AlertUR as the caller?

The incoming phone call to people receiving voice messages will display the number for the University’s information line: (585) 275-6111.

What happens to the personal information that I add to AlertUR?

Personal information will not be used for any other purpose nor shared with anyone outside of the University for any other purpose.

Will information provided to AlertUR update other University systems?

No, this service is separate from other University systems. Student information for University directories is derived from the information in our Unique ID System. Online student information is updated on a daily basis during the academic year. To find current information, go to the online directory at

How long will it take to receive an emergency notification?

Delivery of emergency notifications depends on many different factors, including cellular carriers’ text message volumes, e-mail volumes, and voice phone trunk capabilities. Historically, SMS/text messaging is the fastest delivery method, followed by e-mail and then voice messages. SMS/text messaging, e-mail delivery, and voice calls have been found to be more susceptible to delays during emergencies. Please be aware that one or more delivery methods may not be reliable during emergency situations. To help ensure that you receive messages in an expeditious manner, please provide at least two different communication methods.

In what other ways does the University notify students, faculty, and staff of campus emergencies?

Beyond the system of rapid text messaging and voice notification, the University uses (585) 275-6111 (its telephone information line), department and University telephone trees, blast and targeted e-mail messages, pager and public address systems, voice mails, direct contact by runners and couriers, various Web notices and security alerts, and other means to reach the University community.

Can all personal devices receive the messages?

AlertUR can interface with most communication devices. You should not use numeric-only pagers: you will receive an error message. Also, AlertUR will not accept international phone numbers.

What happens if my device’s texting (SMS) is blocked?

If you enter a telephone number for a mobile device that is blocked for SMS text messaging, the AlertUR service will not send SMS text messaging or voice notification to the device. So, if SMS text messaging is blocked, the voice notification capability of AlertUR is also blocked.

Can AlertUR send messages to TTY devices?

Yes. This is an option in the pull down menu in AlertUR.

Can parents or family members sign up for AlertUR?

The system is targeted to students, faculty, and staff. The University regularly sends out e-newsletters to parents, alumni, and friends of the University. We can use those e-communications to update families and friends on critical situations. They and other members of the University community also can go to the University’s emergency Web page at

What happens after a student or employee is no longer affiliated with the University?

Within a month or two, the person’s name automatically will be removed from the AlertUR system.

Why do I receive multiple calls or text messages to a single device?

AlertUR will deliver voice or SMS/text messages to any device you place in the AlertUR service. Check your contact methods, and if there are multiple voice or SMS/text message entries to the same phone number, you will receive multiple messages. To alleviate this, only have one phone number associated with each type of delivery method (voice, SMS/text).

Can I receive messages to my Google Voice/SMS number?

Google blocks any commercial short codes (Short codes are special telephone numbers, significantly shorter than full telephone numbers, that can be used to send SMS messages from certain service provider's mobile phones or fixed phones) from being sent to their users. The AlertUR system uses a short code to send SMS messages. You must enter a number which isn’t a Google Voice number in order to receive SMS messages.

For Students Only:

Why is my Student Primary Number incorrect?

If your Student Primary Number is incorrect, you must contact your school’s Registrar’s Office to have it changed. The AlertUR service receives the phone number from your school’s Registrar’s Office, and is classified as your local contact phone number.

What are the check boxes next to the Student Primary Number?

The check boxes enable voice or SMS/text messages to be sent to the Student’s Primary Number. If a student unchecks a box, either the voice or SMS/text notifications will not be sent to the number. Simply recheck the box to allow notifications to be delivered.