McGill's emergency notification systems

Service overview | Who can use it | How to request & access | Cost | Availability | FAQs | Best practices & policies | Training & documentation | Support

Service overview

McGill's automated emergency notification systems allow the University to rapidly send messages to students, faculty and staff during time-sensitive situations and disruptions in the use of various buildings.

The systems quickly communicate urgent information to the McGill community by simultaneously:

Desktop notifications - Alertus is a software installed on all McGill-managed Windows computers on campus that sends urgent messages directly to the computer screen. Students, faculty and staff are also encouraged to install Alertus on their personal laptops in order to receive urgent messages from McGill. See the How to request/access section below for a link to the Mac and Windows installation files.

Mobile devices - As part of McGill University's ongoing commitment to ensure the safety and well-being of students, staff and faculty, we encourage every member of the McGill community to opt in their mobile devices to receive voice and/or text messages.

McGill University reserves the right to contact a member of the community on their mobile device if the number is provided through Minerva.

Who can use this service

All McGill faculty, staff and students.

How to request & access

McGill uses multiple points of contact to reach the McGill community in the event of an emergency, as shown in the table below.

Point of contactStudentsFaculty and Staff

Office phones for McGill faculty & staff



Email for McGill faculty & staff



Mobile devices


Optional *

Desktop pop-up for computers (requires Alertus software and an Internet connection)


Automatically installed on most admin desktops; strongly recommended for laptop users. Not installed on research computers.

* Notes :

To opt in a mobile device/ cell phone:

  1. Sign into Minerva and select the Personal Menu > Mobile Devices option.
  2. Follow the onscreen instructions to enter your mobile device number and carrier information.
  3. Verify your information and click Submit.
  4. Within 24 hours after submitting the Minerva form, you will receive an SMS (text) confirmation request on your mobile phone/device. To complete the process, you must reply with a "1" to the SMS.


Add McGill’s emergency notification phone number, 514-398-8700 *, to your contacts to quickly identify who is calling and not miss an important message. Also, you might want to add a special ringtone.

*This phone number (514-398-8700) is not monitored and serves only to identify the service. For more information, see: Emergency Notification Systems.

To obtain the Alertus software:

For units that have a service level agreement with ICS, the software is automatically installed on your office desktop. Students, Mac users and members of units that are not under SLA with ICS are advised to install the Alertus software. If you do not have administrative rights to install applications on your computer, please contact your LAN administrator.

See How to download and install Alertus software


McGill University does not charge for this service. Depending on your mobile device plan, you may be charged a fee for airtime or delivery of any messages.


This service is available 24 X 7. Check the System Status page for announcements regarding service interruptions or updates.

There is NO guarantee of message delivery via this service.

Frequently asked questions

Why do you need my mobile device number?
In the event of a major disruption, we want to send notifications to a communications device you are most likely to have with you or check frequently. Nearly every student, faculty and staff member has a mobile device, most of which can receive text messages.

I have an international mobile device. Can I opt in to the service with it?
No. You can enter international phone numbers on the Mobile Devices page, but you can only opt in from a North American phone number to receive voice or SMS messages from McGill's emergency notification system.

If I opt in on my mobile device, will I receive notifications as text or voice messages?
If your carrier is supported, you will receive an SMS (text). When you select your Carrier from the drop-down list, the Notification Type (SMS or Voice) is displayed next to it. If your carrier is not found in the list, you can choose Other and enter the carrier name in the space provided; for all “Other” carriers, you will receive a voice message.

Is my personal information shared outside McGill?
No. A third-party cloud-hosted solution is used to distribute the mobile voice and text messages; however, no personal information is transmitted outside the University. All confidential information is stored on McGill servers and mobile device numbers are submitted with a unique identifier which cannot be linked to an individual.

How can I tell if Alertus is installed on my computer?
After the installation, you should see the Alertus icon in your Windows system tray. If you do not see this icon, please restart your computer. See How to download and install Alertus software.

Alertus taskbar icon

Does the Alertus software affect the performance of my computer?
Alertus runs quietly in the background and uses very little processing time on your computer.

View more FAQs ...

Best practices & policies

Opt in your mobile device to receive important, time-sensitive alerts from McGill. To do so, log in to Minerva and select the Personal Menu > Mobile Devices option.

McGill Faculty and Staff should verify that the campus address and staff phone number listed for them in Minerva is correct. To do so, log in to Minerva and select the Personal Menu > Update Address(es) and Phone(s) option. If the address is incorrect, click Current and make the necessary changes. If your work phone number is incorrect, contact your Telephone Coordinator so that they can submit a revision request.

Training & documentation

Not applicable.


Contact the IT Service Desk.