Emergency Notification and Timely Warning FAQ

What is the UF Alert System?

The UF Alert System is the IT mechanism that distributes two types of messages that are mandated by the Clery Act: Emergency Notifications -- branded as UF Alerts -- and Timely Warnings. While the mechanisms of communication for both types may be similar, the messages themselves are different in nature. When an alert is sent through the UF Alert System, it will notate whether it is a UF Alert (Emergency Notification) or Timely Warning.

What is an Emergency Notification and what kind of incidents trigger an Emergency Notification?

In the event of a significant emergency or dangerous situation occurring on the campus that involves an immediate threat to the health or safety of students, faculty, and staff a UF Alert (Emergency Notification) will be issued.

Emergency Notifications are messages that are short in nature, can include multiple messages sent within a span of time, and will give information about the emergency and a call to action for recipients. ​Emergency Notifications are sent when emergencies are happening in real time.​

UF will assess for incidents that pose a dangerous situation or a significant emergency that involve a threat to the health or safety of the UF community.

These types of incidents can be criminal, weather-related, or pose other types of emergencies such as:

  • An armed intruder
  • An outbreak of a serious illness
  • Approaching tornado, hurricane or other extreme weather conditions
  • Earthquake
  • Gas leak
  • Explosion
  • Nearby chemical or hazardous waste spill
  • Civil unrest or rioting
  • Bomb threat
What is a Timely Warning and when would one be sent?

In the event of a serious or continuing threat to students, faculty, and staff that is reported to a Campus Security Authority a UF Alert-Timely Warning will be issued. This type of message is different than an Emergency Notification as it is longer in nature, provides detailed information about the crime, there is typically no follow up messaging, and includes information which may aid in the prevention of similar crimes.

These messages are only sent for incidents that are considered Clery crimes that occur on the UF campus:

  • Criminal homicide (includes Murder, Non-negligent Manslaughter, and Negligent Manslaughter)
  • Sexual assault, including Rape, Fondling, Incest, and Statutory Rape
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Burglary
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Arson
  • Domestic Violence
  • Dating Violence
  • Stalking
  • Arrests or referrals for disciplinary action for liquor law violations, drug law violations, and weapons law violations
  • Hate crimes, including the following listed below, if such crime manifests evidence that the victim was intentionally selected because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, or disability
    • Crimes of larceny-theft, simple assault, intimidation, and destruction/damage/vandalism of property

This list is not exhaustive and a Timely Warning may be distributed for other crimes or incidents as deemed necessary.

Why are Emergency Notifications and Timely Warnings important?

Emergency Notifications and Timely Warnings are important for two reasons: 1) They keep our community aware of emergency situations that could impact their health and safety, and 2) They provide instructions and information on how to keep yourself and others safe. For Emergency Notifications, this call to action places our community members not only out of the way of a dangerous situation, but allows responding agencies and UF staff to attend to the emergency. For Timely Warnings, the information provided is to aid in the prevention of similar crimes.

Are Emergency Notifications and Timely Warnings a requirement for all universities?

Yes, all institutions of higher education that receive federal financial aid (Title IV) are mandated under the Clery Act to report statistics on specified crimes on or near college campuses and to provide other safety and crime information to members of the campus community. These requirements include Emergency Notifications and Timely Warnings for incidents occurring on the UF campus. The spirit of the Clery Act is transparency; schools must inform employees, students, parents, and potential students and employees of crimes that are occurring on or around university campuses so that they can make informed education and employment decisions along with decisions that may impact their personal safety and the safety of others.

Who decides to send an Emergency Notification?

The person or persons who decide to send an Emergency Notification differs depending on the type of emergency. For emergencies that are criminal in nature, the University of Florida Police Department will make the determination. For non-criminal emergencies such as weather-related emergencies, Emergency Management will make the determination. For other emergencies, the decision to send an Emergency Notification will be a collaborative effort between Environmental Health & Safety, Emergency Management, UFPD, Strategic Communications, and the Clery Compliance officer.

Who decides to send a Timely Warning?

Due to the criminal nature of incidents that trigger a Timely Warning, either a supervisor in the UFPD or the Clery Compliance officer will make the determination.

How long does it take for an Emergency Notification to be distributed after an incident is reported?

Once an incident is reported it must be confirmed. This confirmation is done by either a UFPD officer, an employee of EH&S or Emergency Management, information provided by the Combined Communications Center for Alachua County, or through multiple calls to UFPD with the same information. Once confirmed, an Emergency Notification will be sent immediately.

How long does it take for a Timely Warning to be distributed after an incident is reported?

Timely Warnings must be issued as soon as pertinent information is available. Once an incident is reported, if it meets the criteria for a Timely Warning it will be immediately assessed for the presence of a continuing threat. If it is determined that a threat to the UF community is still present, a Timely Warning will be sent.

Who receives Emergency Notifications and Timely Warnings, and how?

All members of the UF community are automatically included in the UF Alert messaging system, and must opt-out if they do not want to receive any or certain messages. Please check your ONE.UFL account to make sure your contact information is up to date.

Both Emergency Notifications and Timely Warnings are sent through the UF Alert System, a multimodal communication approach which includes text messages, emails, GatorSafe app notification, UF main page banner, VoIP phone notifications, loud speaker messages, etc.

Why do I receive several Emergency Notifications about the same incident?

As emergencies are often fluid events, you may receive multiple Emergency Notification messages. As information is provided, additional messages are sent with relevant information to continue to keep the UF community aware of the situation. At a minimum, you should receive an initial message about the emergency and an all-clear message.

Will I only receive one Timely Warning for an incident?

Typically, yes. Timely Warnings are singular messages designed to provide all of the pertinent information of the incident, community resources, and information to prevent similar crimes in one message. If there are significant or pertinent updates or a change to the information provided, a follow-up to the Timely Warning may be issued.

Are there other kinds of messages?

Beyond Emergency Notifications and Timely Warnings, the University of Florida Police Department may send emails or use social media to alert the community of ongoing issues or to ask for assistance. These messages are for incidents or emergencies that do not rise to the level of an Emergency Notification or Timely Warning.

What is UF doing to mitigate the negative impacts Emergency Notifications and Timely Warnings can have on students and UF community?

UF understands that the language used in Emergency Notifications may have a negative impact or may revictimize members of our community. The information that is provided has been deemed the most relevant information that is necessary for you to make the best decision for your safety and the safety of others. These messages are not sent lightly and in some cases must be distributed within seconds of an emergency occurring. UF may have some or all of the information about an incident, and every second counts. Remember, the reason these messages are sent are due to the behavior of those who have placed our community in danger, not their identity.

While we hope you understand why the language in these messages is important, we know we can do better by listening to our community members and being intentional in our language. We are continuing to solicit feedback from our community on how to communicate emergencies effectively in a manner that does not alienate or stigmatize our own community members.

Who do I contact if I have further questions about the UF Alert System?

Please feel free to reach out to the Clery Compliance officer at (352) 294-3579 or clery@ufl.edu for any questions, comments, or concerns regarding UF Alerts (Emergency Notifications) or Timely Warnings.

For questions regarding the UF Alert System or if you are experiencing issues with receiving messages, please contact the Department of Emergency Management at (352) 273-2100 or emergencymanagement@ufl.edu