UA looking for cause of emergency phone system outage - Tucson News Now

UA looking for cause of emergency phone system outage

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

People can make emergency calls from phones on the University of Arizona campus again, but there was concern over the weekend after the phone system went down for several hours.

What helped was that the campus was virtually empty because the school was still on winter break.

The university has its own phone system, including the blue light emergency phones (pdf) scattered all over the campus grounds.

The blue light phones are a direct line to call for help in an emergency.

They stopped working too. 

The university put out an emergency alert about the situation.

The outage started at about four o'clock Sunday morning, and lasted about three hours.

It meant no calls in or out.

Cell phones still worked. 

"UAlerts" went out to students, faculty and staff who are signed up with the university's emergency notification system.

The alerts went to cell phones and computers, telling people about the problem, and what to do in case they needed help.

The university is working to figure out what went wrong, especially since the system is designed to be fail-safe.

It has two circuit boards that switch back and forth.

One backs up the other.

"It is two circuit boards. So this is hardware, and for both of them to go out at the same time is really unusual, highly unlikely. This system's been working without an incident since 1989, but it went out and, fortunately, it went out at a time when we didn't have students on campus. And they fixed it. And they're going to be looking in to make sure it doesn't happen again," says UA Senior Communications Advisor Chris Sigurdson.

Sigurdson says UA police have checked all the blue light emergency phones to make sure they're online.

The university says no one tried to make an emergency call through the UA system while the phones were down.

Sigurdson encourages all UA student to make sure they are signed up for the UAlert system.

He says students should pay attention to the alerts and take the advice or the orders that could come through the system.

"The number one thing is to make sure you're in the system and it's working for you," Sigurdson says.    

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