MONTEVALLO, ALA. — A press conference was held Thursday, December 13, on the University of Montevallo campus, to announce UM’s use of Virtual Alabama. Governor Robert Bentley addressed the press on the importance of Virtual Alabama in managing emergencies as well as in cost-saving procedures. Bentley noted that this system gives first responders the information they need, and praised Montevallo for setting the bar high for higher education institutions throughout the United States. “I’m proud of the work done here at UM,” stated Bentley, who went on to say that he would like to see this program expanded to all colleges and universities throughout the state.
At Thursday’s press conference, Director of Alabama Homeland Security Spencer Collier, Mayor of Montgomery and Montevallo Board of Trustees Chair Todd Strange and Montevallo President John W. Stewart III shared information about Virtual Alabama and showcased the capabilities of the system for the University.
The University of Montevallo in Alabama is the first institution of higher education in the nation to implement the full resources of this all-inclusive virtual imagery system for safety and security efforts and facilities management operations. The state’s Virtual Alabama system stands as a model nationwide in the use of 3-D visualization to manage assets and to provide leaders and first responders information necessary to plan for, respond to and recover from man-made and natural disasters. This virtual tool is built upon a complete mapping of buildings and grounds. The University of Montevallo’s system will utilize up to 37 layers of infrastructure components, from evacuation routes and disaster staging areas to electrical outlets and water lines. The valuable information available in this system will support emergency management as well as day-to-day maintenance operations on the campus.
Information contained in this system will provide first responders with the situational awareness needed to safeguard the lives of students, employees and visitors in an emergency. In the hands of maintenance staff, the system will provide virtual access to physical components in any given area, saving time and travel when repairs and construction are necessary. Because information will be accessible to emergency responders in a crisis situation, efforts can be coordinated in real time, providing a unified command center for efficient operations, from pre-incident preparation through post-incident assessment. Montevallo President John W. Stewart III stated, “The implementation of this system is a testament to our strong commitment to the safety and well-being of our students, employees and visitors, first and foremost, and to use all of the available tools in the box to keep our tuition extremely affordable.”
The University’s police force and other approved agencies will have virtual access to all parts of the Montevallo campus, providing immediate situational awareness of any area requiring their services. University Police Chief Chadd Adams noted that the leadership at UM places a premium on the safety and security of students, faculty, staff and visitors. He went on to note the fact that the University of Montevallo is a leader in the innovative and cutting-edge use of this system, and pointed to its use as yet another example of the institution taking a proactive stance on safety.
When used as a tool in facilities management, Virtual Alabama will provide the University of Montevallo with many cost-saving benefits. By visualizing the location and characteristics of infrastructure components, both above and below ground, time will be saved when campus maintenance is undertaken. Knowledge of details, from the size of light bulbs required in room fixtures to the location of gas lines, will conserve valuable time and travel as UM’s maintenance crews prepare to perform a repair without prior reconnaissance. This translates into real savings for the University.
Virtual Alabama Project Director Lamar Davis noted, “We’re going to use the University of Montevallo as a model for the remainder of the state” for virtual mapping technology. “We’re using the University of Montevallo as that model to expand it out.”
In addition to this step forward for higher education, Alabama State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice has mandated that all public K-12 schools will have at least the safety features of Virtual Alabama in place by July 2013.