UW is now using the Emerge facility, a computer network tool which allows important messages to be distributed to thousands of desktop computers in seconds.
The technology is described in this powerpoint presentation.
For technical details read my initial discussion paper.
Results of the campus-wide test (January 2009) are available.
See a demo of the Windows software.
The Mac/Linux versions have most of the same features as the PC version, except the following:
- the PC client allows an optional secondary faculty-specific emerge
server for things like chemical spills which only affects one faculty.
Mac/Linux don't listen to any faculty servers. And in fact, there are
presently no faculty servers in operation.
- the PC version places the browser window into a stay-on-top mode so
that the message can't be easily ignored. Mac/Linux open it to the
front page of the browser, but the browser isn't necessarily moved to
the front of the displayed windows.
- The PC version, upon receiving a new emerge web notification, makes
that become the displayed page and gets ride of old notifications.
The Mac/Linux versions just open a new browser tab and leave old,
possibly outdated messages in the older tabs.
- The PC version has an icon in the "system tray" to indicate it is
working, and clicking on that icon brings up a little readme
web page. The Mac/Linux versions do not display anything until
an emergency notice is sent.
I felt these differences were minor compared with the benefits of having a cross platform solution.