Extra! Extra! York news now on a screen near you

News headlines about York are now appearing on screens across campus
 Above: News headlines about York are now appearing on screens across campus

Look up! York news and information is now appearing on the 25 emergency messaging screens located in 10 high-traffic areas of York’s Keele campus.

Introduced in October 2009, the screens are part of York’s Emergency Preparedness plan to get information to the community quickly in the event of a serious situation, such as a fire or security emergency, and during severe weather conditions (see YFile Aug. 24, 2009). They have so far carried a recurring lineup of global news headlines along with tips on safety and weather forecasts. Now, the screens will also feature news headlines based on Ylife, York’s daily news service for students, and display graphical information about York initiatives.

“It was always our plan to integrate York news and information into the system, so it’s pretty exciting that it’s now happening,” said Steve Dranitsaris, senior executive officer in York’s Office of the Vice-President Finance & Administration. “The York headlines will allow community members in high-traffic areas of the University to see what’s going on.”

Yu can win an ipad posterRight: Screens will also provide graphical information about York

Backed by the reporting efforts of staff in York’s University Relations Division, the York news headlines will include top stories of the day with a primarily student audience in mind. Topics could include student achievements and awards, campus events including Orientation and Frosh Week, upcoming York Lions games and results, York research discoveries, key lectures and conferences, and reminders about subway construction and transportation changes.

Each news headline is accompanied by an image and the link to the Ylife website (yorku.ca/ylife), where more details about a story can be found. Ylife is easily read on mobile devices. The repeating cycle on the screens will also feature graphical notices about campus-wide initiatives such as YorkFest, YU Connect, my.yorku.ca and Yorkwise. The world news feed will continue.

“As part of the University Relations Division’s ongoing efforts to inform the community and enhance the student experience, this LCD platform adds to the growing number of media available to help the University’s 50,000-plus community stay in touch with what’s going on at York and the things that make it such a great place to learn, work and grow,” says Susan Webb, executive director, communications and public affairs.

Currently the screens are located in 10 areas of the Keele campus: the Bennett Centre for Student Services, Burton Auditorium colonnade, Central Square, Curtis Lecture Halls, Scott Library, the Student Centre colonnade, the TEL Building, Vari Hall, William Small Centre, the York Lanes colonnade and in the York Lanes retail area. Osgoode Hall Law School will also have screens operating in its newly renovated building.

Katherine Branton, manager of emergency preparedness, Campus Services and Business Operations, says the screens have been well received. “They’re very popular and we have had a lot of positive feedback.” Branton has just completed a walk around of the new Life Sciences Building where the next screens will be installed. Future plans call for additional screens in other areas of the Keele and Glendon campuses, and all new building projects will include provision for screens in the plans.

As always in an emergency situation, the screens will be taken over by Security Services for use in alerting the community in specific areas or campus-wide and providing instructions on how to respond. For example, 11 days after the screens were launched in 2009, notice of a gas leak and evacuation procedures were broadcast, allowing a timely and orderly response to the situation.  During exam time, interruptions such as false alarms and bomb threats will trigger use of the screens for detailed instructions to people in the areas affected, while advising viewers in other areas to avoid that location.

During emergencies, the news and weather feeds will be suspended and the full area of the screen will be given over to Security Services, which controls the broadcasting of emergency messages.

Items on the screens are designed to be of broad, pan-University interest. To suggest content, units of York University can e-mail screens@yorku.ca about news story ideas or, for graphical material, contact their designated account director in the Marketing & Communications Department, University Relations Division.

Feedback is also welcome at screens@yorku.ca.